NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
After a 1923 concert by Eva Gauthier in New York, the popular bandleader Paul Whiteman asked to speak to her accompanist. Whiteman asked the pianist, George Gershwin, to write a piece for an upcoming concert, “An Experiment in Modern Music.”
According to Gauthier (if not also the Hollywood version of Gershwin’s life in An American in Paris),
Rhapsody in Blue had its first public hearing a few weeks later, after a rehearsal of Gauthier’s show — which, incidentally, the critics did not like. In 1982, however, John Rockwell of the New York Times wrote that the concert “sparked Gershwin’s own interest in expanding his artistic horizons and being taken ‘seriously.’”
Gershwin and Gauthier stayed in touch; in 1935, he invited her to a party celebrating the opening of his opera Porgy and Bess.
Guests at a 1928 party hosted by Eva Gauthier gather around her as she sits at the piano; George Gershwin is standing on the far right.