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Background | Chords | Summertime 1 | Summertime 2
SUMMERTIME IS ONE OF those songs which captured people's imaginations when it first came out, and it has enchanted people ever since. Jazz musicians particularly love it, and the reason is its simplicity, with a hint of blues: perfect for improvising over.
Summertime's composer, George Gershwin, was born in New York in 1898. He showed great talent on the piano as a boy, listening to both classical music and the popular music of the day. His early work was influenced by ragtime, and he started writing music to lyrics penned by his older brother Ira.
In 1919 Gershwin had his first major hit with Swanee, which became widespread after Al Jolson started singing it. All through the 1920s and 30s, George's work in the musical theatre gained him a reputation second to none, but it is perhaps a non-musical piece commisioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman, Rhapsody in Blue, that brought him attention as a serious composer.
Many of Gershwin's songs are still performed today, including Someone to Watch Over Me, 'Swonderful, I Got Rhythm, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and Embraceable You. But it is the song from his 1935 musical “Porgy and Bess” which is celebrated above all others: Summertime.
George Gershwin died of a brain tumour in 1937.
Chords for Summertime
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