33¢ Ira and George Gershwin
Issue Date: September 21, 1999
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
George and Ira Gershwin made up one of the most important musical teams in American history. The sons of Russian immigrants, George and Ira’s original names were Jacob and Israel Gershvin. Early in their lives, George (1898-1937) began studying the piano and Ira (1896-1983) demonstrated a talent for writing. The first song they composed together was “The Real American Folk Song” (1918).
George experienced early success with his song “Swanee,” which was made popular by performer Al Jolson. The first production for which he wrote the entire score was “La, La Lucille” (1919). George continued to write songs for various productions during the early 1920s. His first major Broadway success came in 1924 with “Lady Be Good.” This musical was the first large-scale work completed by George and Ira Gershwin.
Ira Gershwin collaborated with his brother on more than 20 productions. His songs include “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” and “A Foggy Day.” One of George Gershwin’s greatest ambitions was to create an American opera. In 1935, the Gershwins collaborated with author DuBose Heyward to create “Porgy and Bess” (1935), based on Heyward’s novel. This was George and Ira Gershwin’s last major work together.