Composers Datebook®

An all-star Gershwin premiere

George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) — Girl Crazy (Studio Cast Recording) Sony 60704


Composer's Datebook - October 14, 2021

2:00


October 14, 2021

Synopsis

Imagine the cocktail party bragging rights you’d have if you had attended the first night of “Girl Crazy,” a musical that opened in New York on today’s date in 1930. That show marked the Broadway debut of Ethel Merman, and co-starred Ginger Rogers.

But that’s just for starters…

The pit orchestra that night included Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, and Jack Teagarden – gentlemen who would all go on to become famous band leaders in their own right.

Speaking of band leaders, for the opening night of “Girl Crazy,” the show’s composer, George Gershwin himself, was there conducting that all-star ensemble.

For his part, Gershwin recalled: “With the exception of some dead head friends of mine, especially the critics, I think the notices, especially of the music, were the best I have ever received.”

Gershwin was right: “Girl Crazy” included two songs that quickly became classics: “I Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You.” The show ran for 272 performances – an impressive statistic in the first year of the Great Depression, and Hollywood produced not one but TWO cinematic versions of the show in 1932 and 1943.

Music Played in Today's Program

George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) — Girl Crazy (Studio Cast Recording) Sony 60704

On This Day

Births

  • 1871 - Austrian composer and conductor Alexander Zemlinsky, in Vienna;

  • 1935 - American composer La Monte (Thorton) Young, in Bern, Idaho;

  • 1952 - Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, in Helsinki;

Deaths

  • 1990 - American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, age 72, in New York City;

Premieres

  • 1670 - Lully: comedy-ballet, "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" (to a text by Molière), at the Château de Chambord;

  • 1883 - Dvorák: Violin Concerto, Op. 53, in Prague;

  • 1924 - Schoenberg: opera "Die glückliche Hand" (The Fateful Hand), in Vienna at the Volksoper;

  • 1930 - Gershwin: musical "Girl Crazy," at the Alvin Theater in New York City; This show includes the classic Gershwin songs "Embraceable You" and "I Got Rhythm";

  • 1956 - Hovhaness: Symphony No. 3, by the Symphony of the Air, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1960 - Piston: Violin Concerto No. 2, by the Pittsburgh Symphony, William Steinberg conducting, with soloist Joseph Fuchs;

  • 1970 - Lutoslawski: Cello Concerto, in London, by the Bournemouth Symphony conducted by Edward Downes, with Mstislav Rostropovich the soloist;

  • 1971 - Argento: opera "Postcard from Morocco," by the Center Opera at the Cedar Village Theater, in Minneapolis, Minn.;

  • 1995 - George Tsontakis: "The Dove Descending" (No. 3 of "Four Symphonic Quartets" after poems by T.S. Eliot), by the Pasadena Symphony, Jorge Mester conducting;

  • 1999 - Peter Lieberson: Piano Concerto No. 2 ("Red Garuda") by soloist Peter Serkin with the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting;