GERSHWIN, GEORGE. (1898-1937). America’s most famous composer. AMusQS. (“George Gershwin”). 1p. Small 4to. (New York), N.d. An unidentified musical quotation penned diagonally on the detached cover of a supper menu from Schrafft’s, using the descending lines of the two letter “Ps” in “Supper” as the top and bottom lines of the musical staff. Gershwin has written “Very loud” above the quotation and added his large signature underneath.
Gershwin’s career began modestly in 1914 when he worked as a song plugger for a music publisher. After his first song’s publication, he captured Broadway’s attention and, in 1918, began composing for shows. Four years later, after attending a performance of Gershwin’s opera, Blue Monday, bandleader Paul Whiteman commissioned Gershwin to write a piece for jazz band that became the quintessentially American 1920s classic, Rhapsody in Blue. George’s collaboration with his older brother, Ira, gave birth to such musicals as Lady, Be Good!; Funny Face; Girl Crazy; and Of Thee I Sing. Quite possibly their greatest achievement was the “folk” opera Porgy and Bess, based on Dubose and Dorothy Heyward’s best-selling novel and play Porgy.
Our unique quotation is penned on the front of a menu from Schrafft’s restaurant, a chain which proliferated throughout New York City during the 1920s and 1930s. According to a previous description, this item once belonged to an occasional musician and headwaiter named Arthur Borio.
With several closed tears to the right margin and in very good condition. Whether these two bars were part of an unknown composition that Gershwin was currently working on, or a spontaneous musical thought is not known; he obviously had something particular in mind when he wrote “Very loud.”