To the Editor:
I was amazed to find that an article about George Gershwin and the influences on his work [“Gershwin at 100” by Terry Teachout,” September] could have left out the fact that Gershwin was also taught by Joseph Schillinger.
Palo Alto, California
To the Editor:
I usually find COMMENTARY reliable and Terry Teachout’s insights into the musical scene informative, but I was dismayed by an obvious error in his September article. George Gershwin an old man, a centenarian, a relic of an antique past, gone from us for more than a half-century? Nonsense. Not while the youthful exuberance and joie de vivre of his melodies and harmonies sparkle so freshly and irresistibly that they could have been minted this morning.
John O’Hara was absolutely right when, on hearing the report of Gershwin’s death, he said, “I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” Neither do we.
New York City
Terry Teachout writes:
Joel Waldman is absolutely right—I should have at least mentioned the fact that George Gershwin studied with Joseph Schillinger, one of the most interesting and least-known figures in American music between the wars. Though Schillinger’s “mathematical” approach to theory and composition long ago fell into critical disrepute, at least two famous American musicians, Gershwin and Glenn Miller, seem to have found it creatively stimulating. Presumably some ambitious Gershwin scholar will one day produce a paper about the influence of Schillinger’s method on Porgy and Bess.
I could not agree more with Rosanne Klass’s charming letter, and will take the opportunity to note that anyone seeking further evidence of Gershwin’s continuing freshness need only listen to George Gershwin: The 100th Birthday Celebration (RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-68931-2). Released too late to figure in my discography, this two-CD set contains superlative performances of An American in Paris, the Concerto in F, the Second Rhapsody, and excerpts from Porgy and Bess by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (about whom I hope to have more to say in the future). Judging by this album and the related all-Gershwin concert he gave at Carnegie Hall in September, I feel confident in saying that Thomas is the outstanding Gershwin conductor of our time.