The Man That Got Away: The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen

University of Illinois Press
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Over the Rainbow, "Stormy Weather," and "One for My Baby" are just a few of Harold Arlen's well-loved compositions. Yet his name is hardly known--except to the musicians who venerate him. At a gathering of songwriters George Gershwin called him "the best of us." Irving Berlin agreed. Paul McCartney sent him a fan letter and became his publisher. Bob Dylan wrote of his fascination with Arlen's "bittersweet, lonely world." A cantor's son, Arlen believed his music was from a place outside himself, a place that also sent tragedy. When his wife became mentally ill and was institutionalized he turned to alcohol. It nearly killed him. But the beautiful songs kept coming: "Blues in the Night," "My Shining Hour," "Come Rain or Come Shine," and "The Man That Got Away." Walter Rimler drew on interviews with friends and associates of Arlen and on newly available archives to write this intimate portrait of a genius whose work is a pillar of the Great American Songbook.
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About the author

Walter Rimler is the author of George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait and A Cole Porter Discography.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Published on
Sep 15, 2015
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9780252097577
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Music
Music / General
Music / Individual Composer & Musician
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The life of a beloved American composer reflected through his music, writings, and letters.

New York City native and gifted pianist George Gershwin blossomed as an accompanist before his talent as a songwriter opened the way to Broadway, where he fashioned his own brand of American music. He composed a long run of musical comedies, many with his brother Ira as lyricist, but his aspirations reached beyond commercial success.

A lifetime learner, Gershwin was able to appeal to listeners on both sides of the purported popular-classical divide. In 1924—when he was just twenty-five—he bridged that gap with his first instrumental composition, Rhapsody in Blue, an instant classic premiered by Paul Whiteman’s jazz orchestra, as the anchor of a concert entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music.”

From that time forward his work as a composer, pianist, and citizen of the Jazz Age made him in some circles a leader on America’s musical scene. The late1920s found him extending the range of the shows he scored to include the United Kingdom, and he published several articles to reveal his thinking about a range of musical matters. Moreover, having polished his skills as an orchestrator, he pushed boundaries again in 1935 with the groundbreaking folk opera, Porgy and Bess—his magnum opus.

Gershwin’s talent and warmth made him a presence in New York’s musical and social circles (and linked him romantically with pianist-composer Kay Swift). In 1936 he and Ira moved west to write songs for Hollywood. Their work was cut short, however, when George developed a brain tumor and died at thirty-eight, a beloved American artist.

Drawing extensively from letters and contemporaneous accounts, acclaimed music historian Richard Crawford traces the arc of Gershwin’s remarkable life, seamlessly blending colorful anecdotes with a discussion of Gershwin’s unforgettable oeuvre. His days on earth were limited to the summertime of life. But the spirit and inventive vitality of the music he left behind lives on.

Gioachino Rossini was one of the most influential, as well as one of the most industrious and emotionally complex of the great nineteenth-century composers. Between 1810 and 1829, he wrote 39 operas, a body of work, comic and serious, which transformed Italian opera and radically altered the course of opera in France. His retirement from operatic composition in 1829, at the age of 37, was widely assumed to be the act of a talented but lazy man. In reality, political events and a series of debilitating illnesses were the determining factors. After drafting the Stabat Mater in 1832, Rossini wrote no music of consequence for the best part of twenty-five years, before the clouds lifted and he began composing again in Paris in the late 1850s. During this glorious Indian summer of his career, he wrote 150 songs and solo piano pieces his 'Sins of Old Age' and his final masterpiece, the Petite Messe solennelle. The image of Rossini as a gifted but feckless amateur-the witty, high-spirited bon vivant who dashed off The Barber of Seville in a mere thirteen days-persisted down the years, until the centenary of his death in 1968 inaugurated a process of re-evaluation by scholars, performers, and writers. The original 1985 edition of Richard Osborne's pioneering and widely acclaimed Rossini redefined the life and provided detailed analyses of the complete Rossini oeuvre. Twenty years on, all Rossini's operas have been staged and recorded, a Critical Edition of his works is well advanced, and a scholarly edition of his correspondence, including 250 previously unknown letters from Rossini to his parents, is in progress. Drawing on these past two decades of scholarship and performance, this new edition of Rossini provides the most detailed portrait we have yet had of one of the worlds best-loved and most enigmatic composers.
George Gershwin lived with purpose and gusto, but with melancholy as well, for he was unable to make a place for himself--no family of his own and no real home in music.

He and his siblings received little love from their mother and no direction from their father. Older brother and lyricist Ira managed to create a home when he married Leonore Strunsky, a hard-edged woman who lived for wealth and status. The closest George came to domesticity was through his longtime relationship with Kay Swift. She was his lover, musical confidante, and fellow composer. But she remained married to another man while he went endlessly from woman to woman. Only in the final hours of his life, when they were separated by a continent, did he realize how much he needed her. Fatally ill, unprotected by (and perhaps estranged from) Ira, he was exiled by Leonore from the house she and the brothers shared, and he died horribly and alone at the age of thirty-eight.

Nor was Gershwin able to find a satisfying musical harbor. For years his songwriting genius could be expressed only in the ephemeral world of show business, as his brilliance as a composer of large-scale works went unrecognized by highbrow music critics. When he resolved this quandary with his opera Porgy and Bess, the critics were unable to understand or validate it. Decades would pass before this, his most ambitious composition, was universally regarded as one of music’s lasting treasures and before his stature as a great composer became secure.

In George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait, Walter Rimler makes use of fresh sources, including newly discovered letters by Kay Swift as well as correspondence between and interviews with intimates of Ira and Leonore Gershwin. It is written with spirited prose and contains more than two dozen photographs.

*NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*

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The highly anticipated memoir from hip-hop icon Rick Ross chronicles his coming of age amid Miami’s crack epidemic, his star-studded controversies and his unstoppable rise to fame.

Rick Ross is an indomitable presence in the music industry, but few people know his full story. Now, for the first time, Ross offers a vivid, dramatic and unexpectedly candid account of his early childhood, his tumultuous adolescence and his dramatic ascendancy in the world of hip-hop.

Born William Leonard Roberts II, Ross grew up “across the bridge,” in a Miami at odds with the glitzy beaches, nightclubs and yachts of South Beach. In the aftermath of the 1980 race riots and the Mariel boatlift, Ross came of age at the height of the city’s crack epidemic, when home invasions and execution-style killings were commonplace. Still, in the midst of the chaos and danger that surrounded him, Ross flourished, first as a standout high school football player and then as a dope boy in Carol City’s notorious Matchbox housing projects. All the while he honed his musical talent, overcoming setback after setback until a song called “Hustlin’” changed his life forever.

From the making of “Hustlin’” to his first major label deal with Def Jam, to the controversy surrounding his past as a correctional officer and the numerous health scares, arrests and feuds he had to transcend along the way, Hurricanes is a revealing portrait of one of the biggest stars in the rap game, and an intimate look at the birth of an artist.
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