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Ira GershwinThe Art of the Lyricist$
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Philip Furia

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195115703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195115703.001.0001

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The Long, Long Night: 1954–1983

The Long, Long Night: 1954–1983

(p.229) 13 The Long, Long Night: 1954–1983
Ira Gershwin

Philip Fuma

Oxford University Press

Ira Gershwin effectively “quit as a songwriter in 1954.” On the one hand it seems strange that a lyricist, still in his fifties and at the height of his career, would withdraw from songwriting. By that time, however, the winds were indeed changing, growing colder for lyricists like Ira Gershwin. The year 1954 saw the full emergence of a new style in popular music when a song called “Rock Around the Clock” topped the record sales charts, and then, a year later, was showcased in a film called Blackboard Jungle. The year also saw one of the last of the great, full-scale, original film musicals, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. After that, when Hollywood made a musical, it was usually either a remake of a successful Broadway show or a low-budget rock musical aimed at a teenage audience. With the demise of films that called for a full score of original songs, Ira Gershwin, lyricist, became what George had always called him—“Ira, the scholar.” Shortly after George's death, Ira had established the Gershwin Archive at the Library of Congress, where he deposited George's unpublished music. In 1953 he started “to get all the scrap books about George in some sort of order.”

Keywords:   Ira Gershwin, songwriters, George Gershwin, Roch Around the Clock, Blackboard Jungle

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