The <i>Cuban Overture</i> (1932) and <i>Pardon My English</i> (1933)

Howard Pollack

in George Gershwin

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248649
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933149 | DOI:
The Cuban Overture (1932) and Pardon My English (1933)

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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

Chapter.  6220 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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