(GERSHWIN, George) VAN VECHTEN, Carl.
Original Van Vechten Portrait Photograph.
Thoughtful portrait study, signed and dated by Van Vechten verso in red ink in his characteristic minuscule handwriting; “photograph by Carl Van Vechten/ March 28, 1933-XII c: 4”. Despite the variance in dating, the image appears to be number four of a series listed in the Library of Congress’ collection as dating from March 28, 1937. The name “George Gershwin” is also pencilled across the back in signature style, this is in the handwriting of Irene Gallagher. Gallagher was Girl Friday to music publisher Max Dreyfus – the president of Chappell & Co., and publisher of Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Lorenz Hart – and knew all of the up-and-coming young composers of the day. This photograph is from her estate. Van Vechten met Gershwin in 1919 and was instrumental in his rise to fame, bringing the young composer together with adventurous Canadian-American mezzo Eva Gauthier whose annual concert at the Aeolian Hall for 1923 was entitled “Recital of Ancient and Modern Music for Voice”, and featured songs by Byrd, Bellini, Bartok and Berlin, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Kern, and of course Gershwin; “Mr. Gershwin, at the piano, provided accompaniments which were something like works of art in their own genre, and in Mme. Gautheir’s encore – his own Do it Again – raised a gale of laughter by slyly inserting a phrase from Scheherazade at an appropriate moment” (Musical America, November 10 1923). This was Gershwin’s first appearance on a New York concert platform. In February 1924, Rhapsody in Blue was premiered at the same venue as part of the concert “An Experiment in Modern Music” featuring Paul Whiteman’s Palais Royal Orchestra, it was reviewed by Van Vechten in Vanity Fair in an article entitled “George Gershwin: An American Composer Who Is Writing Notable Music in the Jazz Idiom”, describing Rhapsody … as “the finest piece of serious music that had ever come out of America”. This was the first and most important review that Gershwin was to receive, he had arrived.
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Original sepia-toned silver gelatin print (226 164 mm). Presented in corner mounts behind double window mount. One or two tiny surface marks, slight surface rolling at the corners, but overall very well preserved with deep velvet tone.