It is a pleasant impossibility for a reviewer to do justice to this definitive biography of Gershwin’s life and work. It is both complex and fascinating, beginning with his birth in 1898, through his tragic death (at the age of 38) in 1937.
Throughout more than 700 pages of analysis and documentation, Pollack reveals the incredible variety and scope of the composer’s achievements in every facet of popular, theatrical, and classical music. The entire history of American music from the beginning of the 20th century becomes a part of his story, as well as of his fellow composers, such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Aaron Copland, and dozens of others.
Aside from acknowledging his debt to previous biographers, Pollack has drawn from a trove of manuscripts, letters, interviews, articles, and recently discovered scores to fashion an insightful glimpse into what made Gershwin so memorable. After reading this biography it would seem appropriate to paraphrase one of George and Ira’s songs by singing, “It’s very clear…his music’s here to stay.”