The Story of George Gershwin Analysis

David Ewen

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

David Ewen’s The Story of George Gershwin tells of the success of one of the United States’ greatest composers. The book begins with a dialogued scene of the arrival of the Gershwin family’s first piano, hooking the young reader’s interest immediately. The narrative starts with a description of Gershwin’s childhood days, his family life, and the nature of his parents, including their poverty. Ewen also places Gershwin’s life in the context of world events, especially within the world of music.

The author presents the moments when a six-year-old Gershwin became entranced with music and when, as a ten-year-old, he began his informal training. Gershwin’s pull between the street sports that he loved, with his rough-and-tumble friends, and the mysterious urgings of music is contrasted; his way of handling those pressures is portrayed throughout the early portion of the book. Despite discouragement from his musical friends, he decided that he liked music enough to pursue a career in it, even though he believed that he had no future. This choice was his first turning point because he learned to work through failure, a skill that would carry him to triumph throughout his life.

When Gershwin reached high school, he finally persuaded his mother that, in order to achieve his goal of composer, he had to move into the world of music, on Tin Pan Alley, where popular music was created and promoted. In 1913, when Gershwin was sixteen,...

(The entire section is 537 words.)