Having had the privilege of a front row seat to hear concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan play and discuss George Gershwin last October, my eye was drawn to a newly published biography of the musician, George Gershwin: His Life and Works, which appeared in my feed for Arts & Letters Daily.
Weighing in at 884 pages, the "encyclopedic" book (a mild criticism from the reviewer) offers according the Boston Globe, a thoroughly annotated description of the influence of classical music on the composer.
Gershwin's ability to comprehend popular and classical musical forms is described here:
Alone among his popular songwriting peers, Gershwin had the ability and ambition to cross the great divide and compose classical music. Yet among classical composers he was equally unique in embracing uncondescendingly what he characterized as the 'nervous, hurried, syncopated, ever accelerando, and slightly vulgar' nature of American life. 'Rhapsody in Blue,' he wrote, was 'full of vulgarisms. That's what gives it weight.'
As with the book Will in the Word - were the evidence trail equally as fresh for scholars of Shakespeare - I am continually fascinated by what makes artists great. What vision, what faculty do they possess that others do not?