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George GershwinHis Life and Work$
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Howard Pollack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248649

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248649.001.0001

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The Cuban Overture (1932) and Pardon My English (1933)

The Cuban Overture (1932) and Pardon My English (1933)

(p.534) Chapter Twenty-Nine The Cuban Overture (1932) and Pardon My English (1933)
George Gershwin

Howard Pollack

University of California Press

Returning to New York with a collection of Cuban percussion instruments, Gershwin composed an orchestral piece inspired by his experiences in Havana, in particular, the music-making of street musicians. He changed the title from Rumba to the Cuban Overture. Like most of Gershwin's orchestral works, the Cuban Overture consists of a single movement with fast outer sections (A) and a slow middle section (B). The music also reveals a heightened interest in various contrapuntal techniques. Later, Alex Aarons engaged the Gershwins and librettists Morrie Ryskind and Herbert Fields to write a new musical comedy—eventually called Pardon My English—for debonair English music-hall star Jack Buchanan, who, like Gertrude Lawrence, had scored a hit on Broadway with the Charlot's Revues. However, the show quickly flopped.

Keywords:   Havana, Cuban street musicians, George Gershwin, Rumba, Cuban Overture, Alex Aarons, Jack Buchanan, Herbert Fields

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