“Life is a lot like jazz - it's best when you improvise”: FIRST EDITION OF GEORGE GERSHWIN’S SONG-BOOK; INSCRIBED BY HIM

  • George Gershwin’s Song-Book.

George Gershwin’s Song-Book.


Item Number: 47002

New York: Random House, 1932.

First edition of Gershwin’s classic songbook. Quarto, original cloth, with 18 color illustrations by Constantin Alajalov. Inscribed by George Gershwin beneath his frontispiece portrait, “To Dorothy Turnley – Every good wish, George Gershwin.” Signed examples of the trade edition are rare. Affixed to the endpapers are several related newspaper clippings and a program from a January 26, 1934 performance by Gershwin and tenor James Melton at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Coliseum. The program is autographed by Melton. With the bookplate of Dorothy Scallin Turnley. Dorothy Turnley was the first wife of Howard Chandler Turnley, proprietor of the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park, Iowa. After her marriage to Howard Turnley, Dorothy married artist Andre Boratko, then director of the WPA Federal Art Project in South Dakota. In near fine condition, lacking the rare dust jacket. Scarce and desirable signed and with noted provenance.

American composer and pianist George Gershwin’s orchestral compositions spanned the genres of popular, jazz, and classical music and are now considered to be some of the most important musical works of the twentieth century. Gershwin began his career composing Broadway theatre works with his brother Ira Gershwin and soon became a major figure in musical theatre in New York City and later Hollywood. Gershwin's classic Song-Book is illustrated with full-page color lithographic plates after Constantin Alajalov, and includes such Gershwin standards as “Swanee,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “That Certain Feeling,” “The Man I Love,” “Strike Up the Band,” and “I Got Rhythm,” among others. “In one of his few prose writings, George provided an introduction for the song book. What is most important… is that it contained the original published version of each song, followed side by side by George’s ‘improvised’ versions of the songs” (Carnovale, 14).

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