George Jacob Gershwin (September 26, 1898 July 11, 1937) was an American composer of both jazz and classical music remembered mainly for creating Rhapsody In Blue, best known nowadays as the theme song of United Airlines. He's also known for the opera Porgy and Bess, source of such famous songs as "Summertime" and "It Ain't Necessarily So," and for writing many other songs that have become standards, usually with his brother Ira Gershwin as his lyricist. The Gershwins' biggest Broadway hit was the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Of Thee I Sing.
His estate was known for its aggressive advocacy of extending copyright protections, as many of his popular works, including Rhapsody in Blue, were composed in the mid-1920s and were always on the cusp of falling out of copyright protection prior to the terms being extended. In 2020, the Rhapsody, composed in 1924, finally entered the public domain.
Tropes present in Gershwin's life and work:
- Artistic License History: In "They All Laughed." People didn't laugh at Columbus for saying the world was round; they laughed because he'd grossly underestimated its size.
- Big Applesauce: Although Gershwin intended his jazz style concerto Rhapsody In Blue to be reflective of America, the song is associated with New York City above all. See Woody Allen's Manhattan or Fantasia 2000.
- Blah Blah Blah: "Blah, Blah, Blah"
- Biopic: Rhapsody in Blue
- Dramatic Timpani: In the opening of the first movement of the Concerto in F.
- Drugs Are Bad: Seen in Porgy and Bess. Any character who gets addicted to "Happy Dust" is going to have their life take a turn for the worse. Sportin' Life, a drug dealer / pimp, is portrayed as The Corrupter.
- Everything Has Rhythm: "I Got Rhythm."
- Everything Is an Instrument: Gershwin's orchestral tone poem An American In Paris includes automobile horns in its percussion section. The composer brought back four Parisian taxi horns to use in the premiere performance.
- Family Business: Though they originally started out working with other people, Ira became his lyricist in the early 1920s, and the two worked together almost exclusively until George died of a brain tumor.
- A Foggy Day in London Town: He was the Trope Namer because he wrote a song with that title.
- Jazz: His Classical Music compositions were heavily influenced by jazz and Broadway musicals.
- Limited Lyrics Song: "A Foggy Day In London Town," again.
- Love Triangle: The rivalry between Porgy and Crown for Bess's affections is the primary plot focus of Porgy and Bess.
- Monochrome Casting: All of the singing roles in the opera Porgy and Bess are Black characters.
- Name and Name: Applies to the title of the opera Porgy and Bess.
- Nobody Thinks It Will Work: "They All Laughed" is about a couple who goes through this, and is actually the Trope Namer.
- Odd Friendship: Gershwin and serial composer Arnold Schoenberg became close friends. They painted each others portraits and regularly played tennis together.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Porgy and Bess has been a victim of this. Depending on who one talks to, it's either demeaning to African-Americans or Fair for Its Day. Of course, it's still one of the most important US operas of the 20th century.
- Self-Deprecation: In the beginning of the song "By Strauss": "...and Gershwin keeps pounding on tin."
- Sequel: The Second Rhapsody for piano and orchestra has this relationship to the more famous Rhapsody In Blue.
- Silly Love Songs: "Blah, Blah, Blah"
- Song of Song Titles: "Bidin' My Time" lists off several 1920s pop songs.
- Travelogue Show: Or travelogue piece in the case of the tone poem An American In Paris and the concert overture Cuban Overture.
- Women Prefer Strong Men: "The Man I Love" specifies that the singer's longed-for man will be "big and strong."