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U-Michigan unveils historic George Gershwin piano; dedication concert by students, faculty

George Gershwin at the piano that was recently donated to the University of Michigan. Image credit: Ira Gershwin Archive

A fully restored 1933 Model A Steinway piano, owned and played by George Gershwin, will be unveiled by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance at a free public concert Oct. 10.

The piano was donated to the school in 2013 by Marc Gershwin, George’s nephew, as a crowning gesture of partnership between the Gershwin families and U-M during the creation of the U-M Gershwin Initiative. Announced last year, the initiative provides U-M with complete access to the Gershwin archives to develop the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition—the only scholarly edition of the Gershwins’ music—as well as student performances, new courses and scholarly symposia of national reach and impact.

The concert will be held at 8:30 p.m. in Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. Featuring a wide spectrum of music by George and Ira Gershwin, the multi-disciplinary concert, performed by students and faculty, will highlight the piano and reflect the many genres at which the Gershwins’ excelled—including classical music, jazz, opera, musical theatre and dance—all of which have renowned performance programs at SMTD. Included will be some of the Gershwins’ most celebrated works, such as “Three Preludes,” selections from “Porgy and Bess,” and the first performance of the critical edition draft of “Rhapsody in Blue,” featuring the original jazz orchestration from the work’s 1924 debut by the Paul Whiteman Band.

In addition, audience members will learn about the piano restoration from Robert Grijalva, director and assistant professor of piano technology, who oversaw the project, and Mark Clague, associate professor of musicology and editor-in-chief of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition.

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