Have you ever heard the clarinet glissando of "Rhapsody in Blue" ....

Have you ever heard the clarinet glissando of "Rhapsody in Blue" ....

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 5th, 2015, 2:45 pm #1

.... played at the piano by George Gershwin himself? Well, here it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSzWui6a3rA

and here is part 2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is47A9DDvcI

There is an error in the youtube video for part 2. The correct number is Duo-Art 68787.

Images of the rolls:

An excellent article about the piano rolls inhttp://www.richard-dowling.com/GershwinRollsNotes

"Rhapsody in Blue was premiered in February 1924 at Aeolian Hall in New York and repeated soon afterward at Carnegie Hall in April 1924 due to the stunning impact it had at its debut. A nationwide concert tour of the work immediately followed, as did a disc recording with the Whiteman Orchestra at the Victor Talking Machine Company’s (RCA) studio in New Jersey in June 1924. After a four-year hiatus in roll-making, Gershwin returned to the Aeolian Company in early 1925 to make a piano roll of the Rhapsody. Because of the length of the work (and perhaps its marketing value?), editors decided to issue the roll in two parts. Part 2 was issued first in May 1925 and begins with the famous Andantino moderato theme (occurring about two-thirds of the way through the piece) and runs to the end. It is very likely that Gershwin “recorded” both parts at the same time during his early 1925 visit. Part 1 however was not released until January 1927. The problems of length forced the editors to slow down the roll speed of Part 1 to avoid having too large a roll of paper. Unfortunately, this shortening also reduced the amount of paper space available for coded expression holes and contributed to a rather unmusical portrayal of Gershwin’s performance. Part 2 represented a smaller portion of music and was able to run at a faster paper speed which allowed more coded expression information. Consequently, that section is more representative of his playing."

Albert
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 5th, 2015, 9:43 pm #2

... to get into incorrect assumptions about Gershwin's death. But I shall refrain for now.
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Jon Pytko
Jon Pytko

September 10th, 2015, 1:27 am #3

I think that you should share. Your presence has rejuvenated the dialogue on this message-board the past several months.
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 12th, 2015, 7:42 am #4

Jon, I’m flattered and willing to take on the challenge. The answer is much longer than what I wrote about Don Murray’s death. I can’t see where to reduce this post. Please bear with me.

On July 9, 1937, an unconscious George Gershwin was rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles. He, Ira and Ira's wife, had been living there for just under a year while they wrote the songs for the movies SHALL WE DANCE and A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS. On July 10, Gershwin was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Early in the morning of July 11, he underwent surgery. Hours later, Gershwin was dead, without ever regaining consciousness -- although John O' Hara later said, "I don't have to believe it if I don't want to."

We do believe it now but questions remain:
What was the nature of the tumor?
Why wasn't it diagnosed sooner?
If it had been diagnosed and removed earlier, would the outcome have been different?
And inevitably – Who can we blame?

For decades it was believed Gershwin suffered from a glioblastoma multiforme a/k/a glioblastoma grade iv, the deadliest of malignant, rapidly spreading tumors. If so, he couldn't have recovered. Today, median survival is perhaps a year or scarcely more, even with optimal treatment. Surgery, when possible, rarely succeeds in removing the entire tumor. It nearly always grows back and responses to radiation and chemotherapy are highly variable. Some chemotherapy can allegedly lead to even quicker and more intensive re-growth.

In the 1980s, a few doctors began to re-examine Gershwin's case, using medical records, slides of his tumor and biographical data. In 2001, Gregory Sloop, a pathologist who'd consulted other pathologists and surgeons, published a full-blown, scholarly study that maintained Gershwin's tumor was most likely a low grade, non-malignant pilocytic astrocytoma. Had it been removed earlier, before herniation (growing so large it displaced other brain tissue), Sloop said it need not have been fatal in 1937.

Sloop’s analysis hasn’t been directly questioned on its merits, as far as it goes, and as far as I know. The slides he examined and published came from the excised astrocytoma. But was there also a glioblastoma? Based on the slides and medical records as well as more recent research, Sloop seems to think not. A whopper of a self-contained single cyst (Gershwin’s held a full ounce of fluid) was unlikely to have been accompanied by a glioblastoma though one or more small cysts might have existed within a glioblastoma.

However, a l937 letter could seem to suggest otherwise. The letter’s author, George Pallay, was a friend and distant Gershwin relative, based on the West Coast. On July 11, 1937, Pallay was posted outside the operating room, acting as an informational intermediary between doctors and Gershwin’s family who were on a different hospital floor. From Pallay’s letter:

"They lanced [the cyst], emptied it, and burned its membrane down,
down, down… and then discovered the root of the tumor embedded
deep in the brain. It was too deep to cut further or remove. The cyst was
the result of or rather the degeneration of the tumor… [H]uman science
could not detect, suspect, locate or diagnose George’s condition until the
tumor degenerated and caused the cyst to grow."

Palley wouldn’t have known but those aren’t the probable mechanics of Gershwin’s tumor. Based on current research and surviving medical records, Sloop’s theory of a tumor that grew slowly, eventually herniating, makes more sense. And – here we embark on the interesting question of blame: “Human science,” even then, could have detected, suspected, located and diagnosed George’s condition earlier. Easier now with brain scans, but certainly possible then.

Find out why in The Symptoms: Gershwin’s Death, Part 2
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 12th, 2015, 7:57 am #5

I think that you should share. Your presence has rejuvenated the dialogue on this message-board the past several months.
For almost four years prior to his death, Gershwin had experienced a series of symptoms consistent with a slow-growing tumor: intense headaches, nausea, memory blocks and losses, some fainting, olfactory hallucinations (the smell of burning rubber and other unpleasant scents). For nearly 15 years, Gershwin had frequent gastrointestinal episodes he labeled “composer’s stomach” unalleviated by change in diet (he kept a diary of food intake) or lifestyle (he gave up tobacco). His composer’s stomach never disappeared but never grew worse, essentially ruling out a progressive gastrointestinal disease. This too could have been related to Gershwin’s still “indolent” tumor. But, Sloop says, all the above would have been inconsistent with the speedy growth and debilitation of a glioblastoma.

Manifestations of a physical disorder became more intense after Gershwin moved to California. In performance, he blacked out. He spilled food, couldn’t handle silverware properly. He stumbled on stairs, fell on the street and couldn’t get up. He smeared a box of chocolates over his body. He attacked his own valet/ chauffeur and tried to throw him out of the car.

A few years earlier, well before the most dramatic symptoms emerged, Gershwin, then living in New York, had consulted doctors, primarily about his gastrointestinal problems and headaches. For about a year and a half, he had been in analysis five times a week with a psychiatrist named Gregory Zilboorg. I'm a fan of psychiatry in general; but not Zilboorg, a charismatic, unscrupulous figure, who betrayed confidences in a circular round robin, had sex with at least one female patient, engaged in questionable financial arrangements, and undermined the self-esteem of some entrusted to his care as well as some chance acquaintances. See Lillian Hellman, Moss Hart, Kay Swift (Gershwin’s lover), James Warburg (Swift’s husband), Edward Warburg and Thomas Merton (yes, the Trappist monk!) Well, not at this moment perhaps.

Zilboorg had Gershwin convinced his problems were entirely psychosomatic, a view communicated to Gershwin's nearest and dearest, many of whom (though not all) went along with the diagnosis. Those who disagreed were not on the scene in California. As Sloop painstakingly delineates, such somatization was inconsistent with other well-established aspects of Gershwin's personality.

When Gershwin's symptoms worsened in California, Zilboorg's recommendation led to another psychiatrist, Ernest Simmel. Simmel brought in an internist and later a neurologist who encouraged Gershwin to enter the hospital for three days of tests. They turned up nothing. Gershwin, still believing there was no organic cause for his problems, refused a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) that would have revealed a brain tumor. Gershwin allegedly told Oscar Levant that a brain tumor had been “ruled out.” Composer Vernon Duke reported a slight variant of essentially the same story.

The spinal tap was administered only after Gershwin was brought to the hospital, unconscious, on July 9. The tumor was located via ventriculography just prior to surgery. Ventriculography was abandoned by 1971, after brain scans were developed.

Stick around for Gershwin's Death: Could Gershwin Have Survived, Part 3.
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 12th, 2015, 8:19 am #6

I think that you should share. Your presence has rejuvenated the dialogue on this message-board the past several months.
Could Gershwin have survived? Yes, if Sloop and other doctors who reason similarly, are correct; and someone had persuaded Gershwin his symptoms had a physical origin; and he accordingly had gotten that lumbar puncture earlier. And if he’d received timely, correctly intuitive and deductive, top-notch medical care all the way up the line. The care he received in his last few days was conscientious but necessarily hurried as well as too late.

I can’t go with Sloop 100%. While I’ve read a lot, quite a bit of it up to the minute or at least originating far more recently than 2001, I’m not a doctor, much less a specialist in this area. There’s a vast amount of ongoing research about brain tumors. Findings may yet turn up that could undermine what, for convenience, I call the Sloop theory. A while back, I read a 2014 study by a psychiatrist who went even further than Sloop in declaring Gershwin’s life could have been saved. I thought “Great!” until I realized he too probably didn’t know enough about brain tumors. That’s nothing compared to other studies written by medical people who could know more but in fact know less and have an opposite view.

Authors of biographies are also divided. Some, like me, are basically pro-Sloop theory but aware of their own limited medical expertise. Others don’t know or decide to ignore the Sloop theory. They can also be reluctant to abandon the position: “Gershwin’s death was inevitable in 1937.” A somewhat politically motivated complication can lurk in the background.

When we consider Gershwin’s many symptoms, we think, “How could doctors and those closest to Gershwin not have realized sooner that an organic cause was at work?” The official defense, and it’s not spurious, is that psychiatry and neurology were more closely linked and sometimes confused in 1937. To me, that still doesn’t excuse the arrogance of Zilboorg.

Moreover, it doesn’t come anywhere near explaining how Gershwin’s family and friends – seeing his deterioration close at hand – could have failed to perceive it was not psychosomatic. Definitely, we have to try to step back and see this event as it was perceived in 1937. But I find it difficult to imagine any year when – in real life – psychosomatic would have seemed a more probable explanation than a severe illness arising from a physical origin.

In any event, Gershwin’s death occasioned horror for many. A defensive strategy, not necessarily deliberate, ill-intentioned or even conscious, arose. “His death couldn’t have been prevented,” was a safety valve that sealed off potentially overwhelming guilt and a recognition of some abdicated care and responsibility.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 12th, 2015, 11:57 am #7

.... does not mention Gershwin even once?



What were your major bibliographic sources?

Albert
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 12th, 2015, 6:45 pm #8

That's my only theory on Spencer's not including Gershwin.

My major sources were bios and memoirs of Gershwin, his family and a few friends; professional articles; and websites with relevant brain tumor info. Beaucoup de websites! What I list below is just a sampling.

Background: Earlier this summer, I'd considered writing about this for elsewhere, an actual article, timed with the anniversary of Gershwin's death. Never got around to it, then felt guilty about a missed opportunity. When Gershwin was mentioned here, I thought surely, I can at least write a brief post. As you can see, brevity escaped me. So I divided it into three parts - like Caesar's Gaul - when I realized it was too long to read comfortably as a single post.

Most Useful Books:
George Gershwin: His Life and Work - Howard Pollack
George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait - Walter Rimler
Gershwin - Edward Jablonski
The Memory of All That: The Life of George Gershwin - Joan Peyser
George Gershwin - William G. Hyland
The George Gershwin Reader - Robert Wyatt and John Andrew Johnson
Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist - Philip Furia
George Gershwin: His Journey to Greatness - David Ewen
Gershwin Remembered - Edward Jablonski
The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities - Katharine Weber
The Muses Are Heard - Truman Capote
The Memoirs of an Amnesiac; A Smattering of Ignorance; The Unimportance of Being Oscar - Oscar Levant
A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant - Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger
Passport to Paris - Vernon Duke
Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbow and Blues - Edward Jablonski
Fine and Dandy: The Life and Work of Kay Swift - Vicki Ohl
Lillian Hellman: A Difficult Woman – Alice Kessler-Harris
Lillian Hellman; Her Life and Legend – Carl Rollyson

Most useful professional articles:
What caused George Gershwin's untimely death? - Gregory D. Sloop
The Psychoanalysis and Death of George Gershwin: An American Tragedy - Mark Leffert
George Gershwin and his brain tumour-the continuing story – R.J. Groen
The final days of George Gershwin, American composer – M.L. Kasdan
The case of George Gershwin – Bengt Ljunggren
Neurologic history of George Gershwin – A. Silverstein
The uncinated crisis of George Gershwin –Hélio A.G. Teive1, Francisco M.B. Germiniani, Alexander B. Cardoso, Luciano de Paola, Lineu César Wernec
George Gershwin A case of new ways in neurosurgery as well as in the history of western music – E. Gasenzer, E.A,. Neugebauer
George Gershwin-illustrious American composer: his fatal glioblastoma – Louis Carp
Gershwin--his last six months – J. F. Courtney
Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century - Bettyann Kevles
Walter Dandy and the history of ventriculography - E J Kilgore, and A D Elster
Brain Tumors - Francis Ali-Osman
Intracranial Cysts: An Imagery Diagnostic Challenge - Alexandra Oprişan, Bogdan O. Popescu
Treatment of unresectable glioblastoma multiforme - Carsten Nieder, Anca L Grosu, Sabrina T Astner
Neurological problems of jazz legends – P.L. Pearl
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037140/ - Prognostic Factors for Long-Term Survival after Glioblastoma - Mohammad Sami Walid

Most useful websites:
http://www.columbianeurosurgery.org/con ... rocytomas/
http://www.everydayhealth.com/brain-tum ... forme.aspx
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/ ... cause.html
http://www.abta.org/brain-tumor-informa ... stoma.html (and links therefrom)
http://www.abta.org/brain-tumor-informa ... ytoma.html (and links therefrom)
https://www.lalpathlabs.com/blog/glioma/
www.cancer.net/cancer-types/brain-tumor/diagnosis
www.asnr.org/patientinfo/conditions/brain_tumor.shtml‎
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurolog ... umors.html
https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical- ... nosis.html
http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/med ... efault.htm
george-gershwin-incorrectly-diagnosed-with-depression. Html
http://www.cancer.org.au/content/pdf/He ... marked.pdf
patient.info/doctor/gliomas-and-glioblastoma-multiforme
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/338239-overview
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/high-g ... the-basics
http://www.ajnr.org/content/early/2011/ ... 6.full.pdf – Neuroradiology: Back to the Future: Brain Imaging
http://hope.abta.org/site/DocServer/Cys ... docID=1221 – CYSTS –David Schiff
http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-c ... index.html
http://www.roche.com/backgrounder_gliob ... _guide.pdf
https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/gard/ ... esources/1
http://www.cancercompass.com/message-bo ... 232,13.htm re longest living glioblastoma-multiforme survivor -Jerry


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Alberta
Alberta

September 12th, 2015, 10:09 pm #9

Thanks for your hard work! And as for all those researchers, nice if they'd devote some time to helping living, suffering people. And as for the cause of Gershwin's tumor so as to prevent others from suffering and dying before their time.....too hard a problem for the medical profession? Sorry, bad mood today. Must be 912.
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alexrevell
alexrevell

September 13th, 2015, 9:17 am #10

.... does not mention Gershwin even once?



What were your major bibliographic sources?

Albert
As Gershwin was not a jazz musician and had nothing to do with jazz, other than living in the era, why should Spenser have mentioned him in a book subtitled Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats.
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