George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. His compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are still prevalent in modern day culture. They have been adapted and covered by many modern day artists. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions "Rhapsody in Blue" (1924) and "An American in Paris" (1928), as well as the opera Porgy and Bess (1935).
Gershwin was born in New York in 1898. He studied piano as a youth under Charles Hambitzer and dropped out of 15 to play the piano professionally. He began his career playing in nightclubs and as a song plugger in Tin Pan Alley. However, he soon started composing songs for Broadway and the movies with his brother Ira Gershwin, including "Someone to Watch Over Me", "Embraceable You", "They Can't Take That Away From Me", and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off". In the 1920s, he moved to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. While there he was inspired to to compose the orchestral piece, "An American in Paris". This would go on to inspire the 1951 film of the same name and, in 2014, a new musical of An American in Paris opened on Broadway.
Upon returning to New York City in 1935, Gershwin wrote Porgy and Bess, based on the novel Porgy by DuBose Heyward. It is one of Gershwin's most complex works and is now considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century. Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores until he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 1937. He died at just 38 years old during brain surgery.