Gershwin Timeline

Early 1890s

Morris Gershovitz and Rose Bruskin arrive in New York City from St. Petersburg, Russia.

December 6, 1896

Israel Gershovitz (Ira Gershwin) is born in New York City.

September 26, 1898

Jacob Gershovitz (George Gershwin) is born in Brooklyn, NY.

October 24, 1918

George and Ira's first song together, "The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag)," is heard on Broadway in LADIES FIRST, sung by Nora Bayes.

October 24, 1919

"Swanee," with music by George and lyrics by Irving Caesar, premieres in the CAPITOL REVUE. It becomes a monumental hit when Al Jolson interpolates it into his revue, SINBAD, at the Winter Garden Theatre.

June 7, 1920

George writes the first of his five scores for GEORGE WHITE'S SCANDALS, a rival to the ZIEGFELD FOLLIES. The best-known song from the SCANDALS is "(I'll Build a) Stairway to Paradise," with lyrics by Ira and B. G. DeSylva.

May 3, 1921

Under the pseudonym Arthur Francis, Ira has his first Broadway hit, TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE, with music by Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin and a book by Fred Jackson.

February 12, 1924

George premieres RHAPSODY IN BLUE at New York's Aeolian Hall as part of a concert entitled "An Experiment in Modern Music" with Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra.


December 1, 1924

LADY, BE GOOD!, the first show with songs solely by George and Ira, premieres on Broadway at the Liberty Theatre.

December 3, 1925

George's CONCERTO IN F premieres at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Walter Damrosch.

September 14, 1926

Ira marries Leonore Strunsky in New York City.

December 13, 1928

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, George's tone poem for orchestra, premieres at Carnegie Hall, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony Society Orchestra.

January 14, 1930

The revised version of STRIKE UP THE BAND, which had failed out of town in 1927 in its original incarnation, makes it to Broadway, at the Times Square Theatre.

October 14, 1930

GIRL CRAZY opens at New York's Alvin Theatre, making stars of Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman.

December 26, 1931

OF THEE I SING opens at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, with a score by the Gershwins and a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind.

January 29, 1932

George debuts his SECOND RHAPSODY at Symphony Hall in Boston, conducted by Serge Koussevitzky

May 2, 1932

OF THEE I SING is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Unfortunately, as this was the first time a musical had been honored, George's contribution was not recognized. Subsequently, all Pulitzers awarded to musicals included the composer.


October 10, 1935

PORGY AND BESS, by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, and Ira Gershwin, based on Heyward's book PORGY and the play by Heyward and his wife Dorothy, premieres at the Alvin Theatre in New York.


May 7, 1937

The first of the Fred Astaire films George and Ira worked on, SHALL WE DANCE, is released by RKO.

July 11, 1937

George Gershwin dies of a brain tumor in Los Angeles at 38.

January 23, 1941

LADY IN THE DARK, with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and a book by Moss Hart, opens at the Alvin Theatre.

November 1951

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, and Georges Guetary, is released. It wins six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

October 10, 1953

A major touring revival of PORGY AND BESS is mounted on Broadway and subsequently travels the world.

September 1954

A STAR IS BORN, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, is released. Ira receives his third Best Song nomination at the Academy Awards for "The Man That Got Away," but the award gets away too.

September 1959

Knopf publishes LYRICS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, Ira's book of over 100 of his lyrics with his annotations and observations.

May 1, 1983

MY ONE AND ONLY, starring Twiggy and Tommy Tune, opens at the St. James Theatre on Broadway. It wins three Tony Awards.

June 5, 1983

During the 1983 Tony Awards broadcast, the Uris Theatre is renamed the Gershwin in honor of George and Ira.


August 17, 1983

Ira Gershwin dies in his Beverly Hills home at the age of 86.


February 19, 1992

CRAZY FOR YOU opens at New York's Shubert Theatre. It wins multiple awards, including the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1993 Olivier Award (in London) for Best Musical.

June 1998

George Gershwin is awarded a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his body of work.


June 4, 1998

The Gershwins are awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

May 22, 2007

The Library of Congress awards the first Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

June 10, 2012


April 12, 2015

Broadway welcomes a new stage musical adaptation of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.