Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Irving Berlin's advice to George Gershwin

I have been enjoying a walk through the Past by way of the 1948 edition of Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Excellent musical and literary references abound in this book, but they are balanced by the 1948 world view concerning the place of women in society (and in marriage), as well as health advice that has been proven harmful in the intervening 60 years. I thought I'd share this reference to Gershwin in the chapter called "Find Yourself and Be Yourself:"
Be yourself. Act on the sage advice that Irving Berlin gave the late George Gershwin. When Berlin and Gershwin first met, Berlin was famous but Gershwin was a struggling young composer working for thirty-five dollars a week in Tin Pan Alley. Berlin, impressed by Gershwin's ability, offered Gershwin a job as his musical secretary at almost three times the salary he was then getting. "But don't take the job," Berlin advised. "If you do, you may develop into a second-rate Berlin. But if you insist on being yourself, someday you'll become a first-rate Gershwin."

1 comment:

Liz Hamill said...

O very lovely to stumble across this bit of information about Gershwin's Tin Pan Alley days. I am writing some blog posts on Vernon Duke's "I Can't Get Started" and found out that without George Gershwin, we probably would not have had this tune. I hadn't found the relationship between Berlin and Gershwin yet and glad to have it. Thank you.