Pianist, composer Blame It On My Youth, movie star An American in Paris Rhapsody in Blue, radio star, TV show host and author Memoirs of an Amnesiac A Smattering of Ignorance The Unimportance of Being Oscar. Boyhood friend of George Gershwin. Brilliant and gifted but driven by phobias and addictions. "There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line." Born 12/27 1906. Died 9/14/1972.


One of the overlooked facets of his career was that of a go-to private pianist, for High Society events and small soirees, as depicted in "The Thin Man". Remember, during the 1920's, classical, as well as popular music was undergoing vast changes, from an overwrought Late Romanticism, to a far more austere (and somewhat chaotic) sensibility, aided by his strongly staccato playing style. Being a friend of George and Ira Gershwin's, and having been taught by Arnold Schönberg, he was on the bleeding cutting edge, yet not much of a composer himself. Accordingly, he honed a select repetoire drawn from equal parts of pop/classical (Gershwin, Katchaturian's Sabre Dance, show tunes, and the like) and the thorniest of current classical, priding himself on sneaking a little of the latter into the former. Since he was, as well, an accomplished conversationalist and spellbinding raconteur, he was able to educate many influential Americans about "the new music."

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.