2George GershwinGeorge Gershwin was born in Brooklyn in He began his musical career as a song-plugger on Tin Pan Alley, but was soon writing his own pieces. Soon after he met a young lyricist named Irving Ceaser. Together they composed a number of songs including "Swanee," which sold more than a million copies.In 1924, George collaborated with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, on a musical comedy "Lady Be Good". It included such standards as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "The Man I Love." It was the beginning of a partnership that would continue for the rest of the composer's life. Together they wrote many more successful musicals including "Oh Kay!" and "Funny Face", staring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. While continuing to compose popular music for the stage, Gershwin began to lead a double life, trying to make his mark as a serious composer.When he was 25 years old, his jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue“, which combines jazz with classical music, premiered in New York's Aeolian Hall at the concert, "An Experiment in Music."In the early thirties, Gershwin experimented with some new ideas in Broadway musicals. "Strike Up The Band", "Let ‘Em Eat Cake", and "Of Thee I Sing", were innovative works dealing with social issues of the time. "Of Thee I Sing" was a major hit and the first comedy ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 1935 he presented a folk opera "Porgy and Bess" in Boston with only moderate success. Now recognized as one of the seminal works of American opera, it included such memorable songs as "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Summertime.“In 1937, after many successes on Broadway, the brothers decided go to Hollywood. Again they teamed up with Fred Astaire, who was now paired with Ginger Rogers. They made the musical film, "Shall We Dance", which included such hits as "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Soon after came "A Damsel in Distress", in which Astaire appeared with Joan Fontaine. After becoming ill while working on a film, he had plans to return to New York to work on writing serious music. He planned a string quartet, a ballet and another opera, but these pieces were never written. At the age of 38, he died of a brain tumor. Today he remains one of America's most beloved popular musicians.
3Aaron Copland Nickname The Dean of American composers Biography Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900 in New York City.Aaron Copland was the pioneer of American music -- he showed the world how to write classical music in an American way.His musical works ranged from ballet and orchestral music to choral music and movie scores. For the better part of four decades Aaron Copland was considered the premier American composer. Copland learned to play piano from an older sister. By the time he was fifteen he had decided to become a composer.Copland went to Europe for serious study, and, in the 1920s.His "Symphony for Organ and Orchestra" premiered in at Carnegie Hall in 1925.In 1936, his most important works were based on American folk lore including "Billy the Kid" (1938) and "Rodeo" (1942). Other works during this period were a series of movie scores including "Of Mice and Men" (1938) and "The Heiress" (1948).Aaron Copland is an Academy Award-winning composer (The Heiress (1949)), author, conductor, lecturer and educator.After 1970 Copland stopped composing, though he continued to lecture and conduct through the mid-1980s. He died on December 2, 1990 at the Phelps Memorial Hospital in Tarrytown (Westchester County), New York.
4The Jazz AgeClick on the following for an introduction to the Jazz Age:
5Harlem Renaissance After Midnight By Todd OlsonFrom Scholastic SearchIn 1927 limousines and taxis lined up for blocks under the glittering entrances to the famous clubs.Subway tunnels swallowed and spit out crowds of party-goers all night long.And when Rudolph Fisher descended the narrow stairs to one of his favorite haunts, he realized the complexion of the scene was different: "I became aware that, except for the waiters and members of the orchestra, I was the only Negro in the place."In just half a decade, Harlem's throbbing nightlife had become a magnet for thrill seekers from way beyond the black community."The Negro is in the ascendancy," said Carl Van Vechten, a white devotee of black culture. "Everybody is trying to dance the Charleston or to sing spirituals."The fact remained that in much of the country, segregation kept whites and blacks apart.But after dark, when the music began to play, the whole world seemed to cross the color line at 110th Street. There, said one black writer, they found a place they thought was "exotic, colorful, and sensuous; a place of laughing, singing, and dancing; a place where life wakes up at night."
6Louis Armstrong was the greatest of all Jazz musicians Louis Armstrong was the greatest of all Jazz musicians. Armstrong defined what it was to play Jazz.Like almost all early Jazz musicians, Louis was from New Orleans. He was from a very poor family and was sent to reform school when he was twelve after firing a gun in the air on New Year's Eve. At the school he learned to play cornet. After being released at age fourteen, he worked selling papers, unloading boats, and selling coal from a cart.He didn't own an instrument at this time, but continued to listen to bands at clubs like the Funky Butt Hall. Joe "King" Oliver was his favorite and the older man acted as a father to Louis, even giving him his first real cornet, and instructing him on the instrument. By 1917 he played in an Oliver inspired group at dive bars in New Orleans' Storyville section.While playing in Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, Armstrong met Lillian Hardin, a piano player and arranger for the band. In February of 1924 they were married.By the end of 1924, he moved to New York to play in Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra.Louis Armstrong
7During that time he also did dozens of recording sessions with numerous Blues singers, including Bessie Smith's 1925 classic recording of "St. Louis Blues.”In 1932 he left for England where he was a great success.Armstrong became known as America's Jazz Ambassador.In 1963 Armstrong scored a huge international hit with his version of "Hello Dolly". This number one single even knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts. In 1968 he recorded another number one hit with the touchingly optimistic "What A Wonderful World".Armstrong's health began to fail him, but he continued playing and recording. On July 6th 1971 the world's greatest Jazz musician died in his sleep at his home in Queens, New York.
8Bessie Smith Importance Although she was almost completely unknown to the white population, Bessie Smith came to symbolize the black renaissance. As the “Empress of the Blues”, she was a best selling vocalist during the mid-1920s. However, the audience demanded more than great singing; and the queen delivered. She wore lavish gowns on stage while singing in a seductive and powerful voice. Due to her lack of success with white audiences, Bessie Smith never reached the level of Louie Armstrong. However, she is remembered in blues and jazz history as the queen.BiographyBessie Smith, born into poverty in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1895, was discovered by Ma Rainey at the age of eleven. In her youth she performed at tent shows and record shops, but would eventually make 160 records. The end of the twenties marked the end of her style of blues and the decline of her popularity. While driving in Mississippi her car rear-ended a slow moving truck and rolled over crushing Smith's left arm and ribs. Smith bled to death by the time she reached the hospital. John Hammond caused quite a stir by writing an article in Downbeat magazine suggesting that Smith had bled to death because she had been taken to a White hospital and had been turned away. This proved not to be true, but the rumor persists to this day.
9Duke EllingtonDuke Ellington: Master ComposerDuke Ellington is one of the most significant figures in music history. He and his band are considered to be one of the greatest big jazz bands of the period.Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C.He began studying the piano at the age of seven.He started playing jazz as a teenager, and moved to New York City to become a bandleader.As a pianist, composer, and bandleader, Ellington was one of the creators of the big band sound, which fueled the "swing" era.He continued leading and composing for his jazz orchestra until his death in 1974."Ellington plays the piano, but his real instrument is his band. Each member of his band is to him a distinctive tone color and set of emotions, which he mixes with others equally distinctive to produce a third thing, which I like to call the 'Ellington Effect.'" —Billy Strayhorn, composer and arranger Listen to Wynton Marsalis explain the "Ellington Effect."
10The Cotton Club’s Jumpin’ STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOYInside the lobby, both black and white are milling around. A couple of black men with straightened hair, tails, and cutaway coats stand under a huge cut-glass chandelier. On the marble staircase some women in gleaming dresses and fur coats are talking away.Not everyone is rich, though; there are dockworkers and shoe shiners with patches on their pants and holes in their shoes. But once you get on the dance floor, it doesn't matter how you dress as long as you can step.The floor is as long as a football field and about half as wide, all painted in orange and blue. The music is jumping — sounds like "Sugar Foot Stomp" — and it seems like all 4,000 people are out there shuffling and shaking.It all started at the Savoy Ballroom and the Cotton Club in Harlem.The original Cotton Club first opened the club in 1920 as the Club Deluxe, and in 1922 changed it's name to the Cotton ClubDuring it's years of operation, the Cotton Club spawned a generation of top flight talent; in 1927, Duke Ellington's orchestra was hired.The club had an "all-White" policy, - only the performers were Black.The shows had the best choreography, and soon everyone was coming up to Harlem.The Cotton Club’s Jumpin’
11Place this on your poster with all group member’s names visible You TryYou MUST complete all questions before going on!Together choose one of the musicians.Read more about him or her.Pretend the musician just died, together write a short obituary on the artist’s life.Place this on your poster with all group member’s names visible
12Explore Some More! Time left over? Explore Black History Month by clicking on the information below.