George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin’s compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, as well as the opera Porgy and Bess.
He’s the richest composer of all time (when you adjust for inflation), so what did he do differently?
In The Sunday Times this weekend, you’ll find this year’s edition of the Rich List – one composer who most certainly would’ve appeared on it in his day was the great George Gershwin – and this is why:
George Gershwin is one of the eternal legends of American music. He was a prolific writer, (some say he wrote up to six songs a day) and his music has been enjoyed by generations of music lovers the world over.
His work ethic certainly kept the money flowing in, but it doesn’t quite explain the massive fortune that he accrued in his short life. You see, Gershwin wasn’t just rich, he was filthy rich. He’s been ranked in several surveys as the highest grossing composer of all time (adjusted for inflation), streets ahead of Verdi, Rossini, Haydn and even Handel. So what was the magic formula which led to such wealth?
Firstly, Gershwin’s music was outrageously popular. In 1919 his first big hit, ‘Swanee’ sold more than 2 million recordings and 1 million copies of sheet music. His folk opera ‘Porgy and Bess’ was also an instant hit, touring non-stop for three years after its initial run.