Few composers have filmed one another, fewer still have paid for another’s recordings. George Gershwin did both for Arnold Schoenberg.
This rare film was shot by Gershwin in 1937. That summer he died of a brain tumour, aged 38. The film ends with a radio tribute by Schoenberg, recorded on July 12, the day after his friend’s tragic death. Below, exclusively for Slipped Disc, the recording expert Allan Evans explains how two so different composers could come to love and respect one another.
Gershwin and the far shores of modern music
by Allan Evans
A glance at the personages seen colliding at a New York birthday party on 7 March 1928 finds a singer Eva Gauthier, the sexy hostess, Oskar Fried, a monocled Berlin conductor and covert Bolshevik who was in to conduct Stravinsky and Ravel the following week with the New York Symphony, along with the birthday celebrant himelf seated at the piano, Ravel, who also arrived to conduct his own works before Fried, and at far right a beaming young Gershwin whose expression betrays delight in meeting his idol. One assumes that at some point Gershwin took over to play for all: he later asked Ravel for lessons.