So, in the Chicago Tribune today, I happened to read an article about something that is happening at Michigan's School of Music. Short version: they are in a years long process of publishing an authoritative corpus on the works of George Gershwin.
(Note: I subscribe to the Trib, so I don't know whether these links will work for you or not.)
Nine years ago, a University of Michigan alumnus reached out to his alma mater with a proposal that stands to change our understanding of American music.
Todd Gershwin, great-nephew of brothers George and Ira Gershwin, “cold-called the school of music,” recalls Mark Clague, a professor at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
“He said: The family is talking about how to curate the legacy of my uncles — we want to be able to get somebody to take on this project.”
To its lasting credit, the University of Michigan embraced the challenge from alumnus Todd Gershwin, establishing the Gershwin Initiative to begin work on The George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition. To date, “An American in Paris” has been completed and performed; “Rhapsody in Blue” is scheduled for publication in 2018; and a concert “test reading” of a performance edition of “Porgy and Bess”
will take placetook place at the school, in Ann Arbor, on Feb. 17, 2018.
This is fascinating to me. Gershwin has always been one of my favorite classical composers. Parts of "Rhapsody in Blue" were about as far as I got in piano.
Did any of you go to the reading / performance of Porgy and Bess? Are any of you working on the project? The article explains that the critics of the day almost uniformly savaged George Gershwin over his opera. They rejected the idea that a Jewish composer could "do opera." Even worse, in the minds of critics, the performers were black. Porgy and Bess was severely edited, shortened, and condensed.
Stuff like this makes me proud to be a Michigan grad. I'm sure someone here either performed in the orchestra, or is part of the project in some way. I'd love to hear more.