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George Gershwin

Photo portrait of George Gershwin

Basic Information

Born: born Jacob Gershowitz, September 26, 1898, Brooklyn, New York

Died: July 11, 1937 (age 38), Beverly Hills, California

Primary songwriting role: composer; also pianist, classical composer, painter

Co-writers: chiefly Ira Gershwin (brother), plus others such as B. G. De Sylva, Dubose Heyward, Irving Caesar, Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach, and Gus Kahn. Also see a database of 29 George Gershwin co-writers.

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Basic Songwiter Information
Overview and Commentary
Music-Video Cabinet
Songs by This Songwriter
in the Cafe Songbook Catalog
of The Great American Songbook
Web Research Resources
Print Research Resources
Visitor Comments
Master List of Songwriters

Overview and Commentary:
George Gershwin
(This section remains in preparation)

Overview In progress. See also www.gershwin.com (George and Ira Gershwin official website) or Wikipedia article.

an Irving Caesar comment on George Gershwin's composition method.

book cover: The Gershwins
The Gershwins
Robert Kimball and Alfred Simon, Eds.
New York: Atheneum,

"You see," Caesar relates, ""George wrote with chords. His chordation was so interesting, so modern and remarkable, and out of his chordation came the melodies" (Kimball and Simon, p. 23).

George Gershwin and
Irving Berlin

book cover: Edward Jablonskie, "Gershwin A Biography"
Edward Jablonski
A Biography,

New York: Doubleday, 1987 (paper-bound Ed. shown)

An early (c. 1918) meeting between Berlin and Gershwin, their second, came about when Berlin, who had been in the Army and aside from has Army show "Yip, Yip, Yaphank" hadn't been writing much, brought a song to the renowned music publisher Max Dreyfus. Dreyfus liked the song so Berlin asked him to call in someone to note it down. Dreyfus called in one of his song pluggers, George Gershwin. After writing it down, Gershwin immediately played his own arrangement. According to Gershwin biographer, Edward Jablonksi, Berlin said of Gershwin's arrangement of "Revolutionary Rag," "it was so good I hardly recognized it." The very young Gershwin recognizing the opportunity to hitch his coattails to the star songwriter Irving Berlin proposed that Berlin hire him as his "musical secretary." "Berlin's opinion was that [Gershwin] was too talented to subordinate his talent to that of another songwriter, even Irving Berlin. 'Stick to writing your own songs kid' (Jablonski, pp. 35-36).
George Gershwin and
Sigmund Romberg
See commentary on the Cafe Songbook page for Sigmund Romberg.

George Gershwin Memorial Concerts


book cover: George Gershwin: "An Intimate Portrait" by Walter Rimler
Walter Rimler
George Gershwin:
An Intimate Portrait
Urbana and Chicago:
University of Illinois Press, 2009.


Fred Astaire
album: Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers at RKO

(CD: 2005)

album cover: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at RKO -- soundtracks

Amazon iTunes

(note: both albums includes soundtrack version of song on video.)

A month after Gershwin's death in 1937, there was a memorial concert for him at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City, a venue where he had himself performed several times, the last occasion being not long before he died. On that occasion he had been disappointed that only a few thousand people had attended. The memorial concert drew over 20,000 a new stadium attendance record. Walter Rimler quotes the New York Times article on the concert:

Aside from the regular seating accommodations, every extra inch of space had been utilized for the expected overflow, but the crown was more than authorities had counted on. Standees lined both extension walls of the the shell and occupied every point of vantage. The aisles of the stands were filled. Hundreds of stood by at the stadium fences on Convent Avenue, 136th sand 138th Streets."

Rimler goes on to note that among the participants was Harry Kaufman, who played the Concerto in F. Todd Duncan (The original Porgy), Anne Brown, Ruby Elzy and the Eva Jessye Choir from the original cast performed selections from Porgy and Bess. A similar memorial took place at the The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles later that month and was similarly mobbed. At that concert some of the above performers were joined by Fred Astaire singing "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and Oscar Levant, a long time Gershwin colleague and family friend who overcame five years of stage fright to play the Concerto in F. (Rimler, p. 164).

Fred Astaire sings "They Can't Take That Away From Me to Ginger Rogers in the movie Shall We Dance, 1937, the score for which being the last that George Gershwin completed before His death. (The encore performance in the video is from the 1949 movie The Barkleys of Broadway, the last film Fred and Ginger made together.)


The Porgy and Bess Controversy of 2011-2012

cast recording by the Houston Grand Opera, 1990

Amazon iTunes



album cover: The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
cast recording for the 2011-2012 Production of
The Gershwins'
Porgy and Bess

Amazon iTunes


For a broad selection of Porgy and Bess recordings, click here.

The following bibliography of articles from the New York Times (and other publications) appearing during the summer and fall of 2011 and winter of 2012, chronicles a discussion about new productions of the George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, and Dubose Heyward opera Porgy and Bess.

The excerpted passage below serves as an introduction to the discussion:

In a letter to The Times [see below], Mr. Sondheim declared his opposition to filling out the backstory of the characters of the show and changing its ending. His tone was angry, even mean, and while some speculated about ulterior motives, anyone who has read Mr. Sondheim’s opinionated book “Finishing the Hat” knows this argument stems from strongly-held beliefs about “Porgy and Bess.”

Ms. [Diane] Paulus [the show's director] will have her chance to prove him wrong, and while she was surely not pleased with this feedback, I suspect it will only increase interest in her production and debate about the show. What was startling about Mr. Sondheim’s letter was its disregard for the diplomatic etiquette usually practiced by artists in the press. It suggested there are things in the theater more important than hurt feelings.

(from a column titled "Theater Talk-back: The Good That Comes From Bad Reviews" by Jason Zinoman that appeared in The New York Times, April, 5, 2011.)

The citations below are in chronological order from earliest date to most recent and the links will take you to the articles themselves at NYTimes.com and the sites of other publications. (All The Times articles will be available to subscribers and to those who have not exceeded The Times' limit for viewing articles on line within a given period. --Read more about NY Times Digital subscriptions.)

  • Patrick Healy, "It Ain't Necessarily Porgy,"
    The New York Times
    , August, 5, 2011. (Article on the upcoming Diane Paulus production of Porgy and Bess.)
  • "Inside Porgy and Bess Rehearsals With Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis (Video)," PlayBlog at Playbill.com. (Includes a video featuring Diane Paulus commenting on how the production has been changed from an opera to a musical, with more of a focus on the story. August 8, 2011.
  • Stephen Sondheim, Response to the article by Patrick Healy (See above.) about the upcoming production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, The New York Times, August 10, 2011.
  • Andrea Shea, 'Porgy And Bess': Messing With A Classic, NPR.music.org, August 21, 2011. (from the article: "Bess is still a beautiful drug addict torn between her brutish boyfriend Crown and her growing love for the charming, disabled beggar Porgy. But Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who was hired to open the script, had lots of questions about what made these characters tick." -- also includes links to other Porgy and Bess related NPR features.
  • Zachary Woolfe, "A Classic That Still Vexes as It Pleases," The New York Times, August 28, 2011 (Review of the Tanglewood Music Festival concert performance of Porgy And Bess).
  • Jeremy Eichler, "Prelude to at Least One Storm," Boston Globe August 31, 2011 (Review of the Tanglewood Music Festival concert performance of Porgy And Bess).
  • Ben Brantley, "Excavations on Catfish Row," The New York Times, September 2, 2011 (Review of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Cambridge MA. -- Brantley refers to the controversy, chronicled above, surrounding this production.)
  • Hilton Als, "A New Look for Porgy and Bess," The New Yorker, September 26, 2011 (Als gives the Paulus production a much more positive review than Brantley does: "Diane Paulus's great achievement is to cut through Heyward's muddy folklore and to present us with something more profound."
  • Ben Brantley, "A New Storm’s Brewing Down on Catfish Row," (review of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Broadway production, The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2012.
  • "Critics Discuss Porgy and Bess": Ben Brantley, the chief theater critic for The New York Times, and Anthony Tommasini, The Times’s chief classical music critic, discuss the new musical production, “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” based on the 1935 opera, and respond to readers’ comments, The New York Times, January 17, 2012.
  • Joe Nocera, "Variations on an Explosive Theme," The New York Times, Jan. 22, 2012. (An op-ed piece on the cultural and musical history of productions of Porgy and Bess.
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Cafe Songbook
Music-Video Cabinet:
George Gershwin
(This section is currently in preparation)

Gershwin on Historical Audio and Video

"Looking for a Boy," Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin
Performed by George Gershwin, piano, Recorded July 6, 1926, London, Columbia 4065.
The song was written for the Broadway musical Tip-Toes, which made its Broadway debut on December 28, 1925 at the Liberty Theatre, was produced by Alex A. Aarons and Vinton Freedley, who had been the producers of the Gershwins' smash hit "Lady, Be Good!" the year before. The American cast included: Jeannette MacDonald, Robert Halliday, Amy Revere, Andrew Tombes, Harry Watson Jr.., Queenie Smith, Allen Kearns, Gertrude McDonald, Lovey Lee. The show ran 194 Performances. (--videomaker credit)

Ira Gershwin and unknown narrator (perhaps Don Wilson) offer a portion of an oral biography of
George Gershwin. (Original source unknown to us)

"Rare film footage of George Gershwin in New York in 1929, playing songs from Strike Up The Band. George Gershwin also does some 'acting' with the comedians Clark and McCullough! The songs included in this clip are: 'Hangin' Around with You,' 'Strike Up The Band' and 'Mademoiselle in New Rochelle' (movie courtesy Edward Jablonski via Jack Gibbons"--videomaker credit)
George Gershwin on the radio

Late 1932 or early 1933

Listen to George Gershwin playing and commenting on his own works on the Rudy Vallée radio show*. (*aka "The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour"). The recording begins with an introduction of Gershwin who then plays his own arrangement of variations on "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Liza," continues with something a little more unusual, a blues lullaby based on one of his preludes for strings, and concludes with Gershwin waggishly interviewing himself.

George Gershwin introduces selections from his Porgy and Bess on the radio July 19, 1935 before it opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theater on Oct. 10, 1935.

Gershwin Songbook Albums and Videos: Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald,
Susannah McCorkle

Sarah Vaughan (1957)
album: Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin

Amazon || iTunes icon icon

Notes: Sarah Vaughan recorded several albums of Gershwin Songs. Click the album cover or the iTunes link to view to view Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin at iTunes; click the Amazon link to view the remastered version of the same album.

Oscar Peterson (1959)
album : Oscar Peterson Plays the George Gershwin Songbook

Amazon || iTunes icon

Notes: The Oscar Peterson Trio on this album consists of Peterson on Piano, Ray Brown on Bass and and Ed Thigpen on drums.

The Sarah Vaughan medley of Gershwin songs on the video at the right includes "But Not For Me", "Love Is Here To Stay", "Embraceable You" and "Someone To Watch Over Me" and comes from the album Gershwin Live, 1982. Sarah Vaughan is accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas with arrangements by Marty Paich. Vaughan's performance won her the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female in 1983. (videomaker credit)

Amazon || iTunes icon

Ella Fitzgerald (1959)
album: Oh, Lady Be Good
Best of the Gershwin Songbook

Amazon || iTunes icon

Notes: Nelson Riddle Arrangements

Susannah McCorkle (1996)
Album: Someone to Watch Over Me

Amazon || iTunes icon

Notes: McCorkle's Gershwin songbook album with Allen Farnham (piano) Howard Alden (guitar), Chris Porter (tenor sax/flute) Randy Sandke (trumpet/flugle horn)

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George Gershwin Songs
currently included in the
Cafe Songbook Catalog of
The Great American Songbook
  1. Anything for You
  2. Ask Me Again
  3. Beginner's Luck
  4. Bess, You Is My Woman, Now
  5. Bidin' My Time (I'm)
  6. But Not for Me
  7. Clap Yo' Hands
  8. Do It Again
  9. Do, Do, Do
  10. Embraceable You
  11. Fascinating Rhythm
  12. Foggy Day (A)
  13. For You, For Me, Forevermore
  14. He Loves and She Loves
  15. How Long Has This Been Going On?
  16. I Got Plenty O' Nuthin'
  17. I Got Rhythm
  18. I Loves You, Porgy
  19. I Was Doing All Right
  20. Isn't It a Pity?
  21. It Ain't Necessarily So
  22. I've Got a Crush On You
  23. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off
  24. Love Is Here to Stay (Our)
  25. Love Is In The Air
  26. Love Walked In
  27. Luckiest Man In The World
  28. Man I Love (The)
  29. My Man's Gone Now
  30. My One And Only (What Am I Gonna Do?)
  31. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  32. Of Thee I Sing
  33. Oh, Lady Be Good!
  34. 'S Wonderful
  35. Shall We Dance?
  36. Slap That Bass
  37. Somebody Loves Me
  38. Somebody Stole My Heart Away
  39. Someone To Watch Over Me
  40. Soon
  41. Stairway To Paradise (I'll Build a)
  42. Strike Up The Band
  43. Summertime
  44. Swanee
  45. Sweet And Low-Down
  46. That Certain Feeling
  47. They All Laughed
  48. They Can't Take That Away from Me
  49. Things Are Looking Up
  50. Who Cares?
Click here for a database of songs written or co-written by George Gershwin.
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Research Resources:
George Gershwin

George Gershwin research resources on the web (listed alphabetically by web source):
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George Gershwin research resources in print (listed chronologically):
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(George Gershwin page)


Credits for Videomakers of videos used on this page:

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Cafe Songbook
Master List
of Great American Songbook Songwriters

Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.


Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.


Names of songwriters with only one song credit in the catalog are linked to the Cafe Songbook page for that song, on which may be found information about the songwriter or a link to an information source for him or her.


Please note: Cafe Songbook pages for songwriters are currently in various stages of development.

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Adair, Tom

Adams, Lee

Adams, Stanley

Adamson, Harold

Ager, Milton

Ahbez, Eden

Ahlert, Fred

Akst, Harry

Alexander, Van

Allen, Lewis

Allen, Steve

Alter, Louis

Altman, Arthur

Anderson, Maxwell

Andre, Fabian

Arlen, Harold
Arnheim, Gus

Arodin, Sid

Atwood, Hub

Astaire, Fred

Austin, Gene

Ayer, Nat D.

Barbour, Dave

Barnes, Billy

Barris, Harry

Bassman, George

Belle, Barbara

Bennett, Dave

Bergman, Alan and Marilyn

Berlin, Irving

Bernie, Ben

Bernstein, Leonard

Best, William "Pat"

Blackburn, John

Blackwell, Otis (a.k.a. John Davenport)

Blake, Eubie

Blane, Ralph

Blitzstein, Marc

Bloom, Rube

Bock, Jerry

Block, Martin

Boland, Clay

Borne, Hal

Borodin, Alexander

Bowman, Brooks

Boyd, Elisse

Brent, Earl K.

Bricusse, Leslie

Brooks, Harry

Brooks, Shelton

Brown, Les

Brown, Lew

Brown, Nacio Herb

Brown, Seymour

Burke, Joe

Burke, Johnny

Burke, Sonny

Burnett, Ernie

Burns, Ralph

Burwell, Cliff

Bushkin, Joe


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Caesar, Irving

Cahn, Sammy

Caldwell, Anne

Campbell, Jimmy

Carey, Bill (William D.)

Carmichael, Hoagy

Carroll, Harry

Carter, Benny

Casey, Kenneth

Casucci, Leonello

Chaplin, Charlie

Chaplin, Saul

Charlap, Moose

Clare, Sidney

Chase, Newell

Churchill, Frank

Clarke, Grant

Clifford, Gordon

Clinton, Larry

Coates, Carroll

Coleman, Cy

Comden, Betty and Adolph Green

Conley, Larry

Connelly, Reginald

Conrad, Con

Cooley, Eddie

Coots, J. Fred

Cory, George

Coslow, Sam

Creamer, Henry

Crosby, Bing

Cross, Douglas

Daniels, Charles N.
Davenport, John (See Otis Blackwell.)

David, Mack

Davis, Benny

Davis, Jimmy

Dee, Sylvia

De Lange, Eddie

Denniker, Paul

Dennis, Matt

De Paul, Gene

De Rose, Peter

De Sylva, B.G. (Buddy)

DeVries, John

Dietz, Howard

Distel, Sacha

Dixon, Mort

Donaldson, Walter

Dorsey, Jimmy

Dougherty, Doc

Drake, Ervin
Drake, Milton

Dreyer, Dave

Dubin, Al

Duke, Vernon

Edens, Roger

Edwards, Michael

Egan, Raymond B.

Eliscu, Edward

Ellington, Duke

Elman, Ziggy

Engvick, William

Evans, Ray

Evans, Redd

Eyton, Frank


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Fain, Sammy

Fetter, Ted

Fields, Dorothy

Fischer, Carl

Fisher, Dan

Fisher, Fred

Fisher, Mark

Fisher, Marvin

Forrest, George

Freed, Arthur

Freed, Ralph

L. E. Freeman

Gaines, Lee

Gallop, Sammy

Gannon, Kim

Garner, Errol

Gaskill, Clarence

Gensler, Lewis E.

George, Don

Gershwin, George

Gershwin, Ira

Gillespie, Haven

Golden, John

Goodman, Benny

Goodwin, Joe

Gordon, Irving

Gordon, Mack

Gorney, Jay

Gorrell, Stuart

Goulding, Edmund

Grainger, Porter

Grand, Murray

Grant, Ian

Gray, Chauncey

Gray, Timothy

Grever, Maria

Grey, Clifford
Green, Adolph and Betty Comden

Green, Bud

Green, Freddie

Green, Johnny

Gross, Walter

Haggart, Bob

Hamilton, Arthur

Hamilton, Nancy

Hamm, Fred

Hammerstein, Arthur

Hammerstein II, Oscar

Hampton, Lionel

Handy, W. C.
Hanighen, Bernie

Hanley, James F.

Harbach, Otto

Harburg, E. Y. (Yip)

Harling, W. Franke

Harline, Leigh

Hart, Lorenz

Henderson, Jimmy

Henderson, Ray

Herbert, Victor

Herman, Woody

Herron, Joel S.

Herzog Jr., Arthur

Heyman, Edward

Heyward, Dubose

Higginbotham, Irene

Higgins, Billy

Hilliard, Bob

Hirsch, Walter

Hodges, Johnny

Holiday, Billie

Holiner, Mann

Hollander, Frederick

Holofcener, Larry

Homer, Ben

Hopper, Hal

Howard, Bart

Hubbell, Raymond

Hupfeld, Herman


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Jacobs, Jacob

Jaffe, Moe

James, Freddy (Pseud. for Teddy Powell)

James, Harry

James, Paul

Jenkins, Gordon

Johnson, James P.

Johnston, Arthur

Johnston, Patricia

Jolson, Al

Jones, Isham

Kahal, Irving

Kahn, Gus

Kahn, Roger Wolfe

Kalmar, Bert

Keith, Marilyn
Kent, Walter

Kern, Jerome

Kisco, Charles

Kitchings, Irene

Koehler, Ted

Kosma, Joseph

Kramer, Alex

Kramer, Joan Whitney

Kurtz, Manny

Laine, Frankie

Lamare, Jules (a.k.a Charles N.

Daniels and Neil Moret)

Lane, Burt
Landesman, Fran

Latouche, John

Lawrence, Eddie

Lawrence, Jack

Layton, Turner

Lee, Peggy

Leigh, Carolyn

Leonard, Anita

Lerner, Alan Jay
Leslie, Edgar

Levant, Oscar

Lewis, Morgan

Lewis, Sam M.

Link, Harry

Lippman, Sidney

Livingston, Fud

Livingston, Jay

Livingston, Jerry

Loeb, John Jacob

Loesser, Frank

Loewe, Frederick

Lombardo, Carmen

Lowe, Ruth

Lown, Bert
Lyman, Abe


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MacDonald, Ballard

Magidson, Herb
Malneck, Matty

Mancini, Henry

Mandel, Frank

Mandel, Johnny

Mann, David

Marks, Gerald

Martin, Hugh

Maschwitz, Eric

Mayer, Henry
McCarey, Leo

McCarthy, Joseph

McCarthy, Jr., Joseph

McHugh, Jimmy

McCoy, Joe

Mellin, Robert

Mercer, Johnny

Merrill, Bob

Mertz, Paul Madeira

Meyer, Joseph

Miles, Dick

Miller, Glenn

Miller, Nathan Ned

Mills, Irving
Mitchell, Sidney D.

Moll, Billy

Monaco, Jimmy

Moret, Neil (aka Charles N. Daniels)

Morey, Larry

Moross, Jerome

Mundy, Jimmy

Muse, Clarence

Myrow, Josef

Nemo, Henry

Newley, Anthony

Nichols, Alberta

Noble, Ray

Norman, Pierre
Norton, George A.

Oakland, Ben

Overstreet, Benton W.

Palmer, Jack

Palmer, Bee

Parish, Mitchell

Parker, Dorothy

Parker, Sol

Parsons, Geoffrey

Perkins, Frank S.

Phillipe-Gérard M(ichel)

Pinkard, Maceo

Porter, Cole

Prima, Louis

Prince, Graham

Prince, Hughie


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Rainger, Ralph

Raksin, David

Ram, Buck

Ramirez, Roger (Ram)

Rand Lionel

Raye, Don

Razaf, Andy

Reardon, Jack

Redmond, John

Rene, Leon T.

Rene, Otis

Revel, Harry

Reynolds, Ellis

Reynolds, Herbert

Rhodes, Stan

Robin, Leo

Robin, Sid

Robison, Willard

Rodgers, Richard

Romberg, Sigmund

Rome, Harold

Ronell, Ann
Rose, Billy

Rose, Fred

Rose, Vincent

Ruby, Harry

Ruby, Herman

Ruskin, Harry

Russell, Bob

Sampson, Edgar

Sanicola, Henry

Santly, Lester

Savitt, Jay

Secunda, Sholom

Segal Jack
Schertzinger, Victor
Schwandt, Wilbur

Schwartz, Arthur

Scott, Bertha

Shapiro, Ted

Shavers, Charlie

Shay, Larry

Shearing, George

Sherman, Jimmy

Sherwin, Manning

Sigman, Carl

Signorelli, Frank

Silvers, Phil

Simons, Seymour

Sinatra, Frank

Sissle, Noble

Skylar, Sunny

Snyder, Ted

Sondheim, Stephen

Sour, Robert
Spence, Lew

Springer, Philip

Stept, Sam H.

Stock, Larry

Stordahl, Axel

Strachey, Jack

Strayhorn, Billy

Strouse, Charles

Styne, Jule

Suessdorf, Karl

Suesse, Dana

Sullivan, Henry

Swan, Einar Aaron

Swift, Kay

Symes, Marty


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Tauber, Doris

Teagarten, Jack

Thompson, Kay
Tobias, Charles

Tobias, Harry

Tormé, Mel

Tracey, William G.
Trent, Jo

Troop, Bobby

Turk, Roy

Turner, John

Van Heusen, Jimmy (James)

Vimmerstedt, Sadie

Waller, Fats

Warfield, Charles

Warren, Harry

Washington, Ned
Watson, Johnny

Webb, Chick

Webster, Paul Francis

Weill, Kurt

Weiss, George David

Wells, Robert

Weston, Paul

Whiting, Richard A.

Whiting, George A.

Wilder, Alec

Wiley, Lee

Wilkinson, Dudley

Williams, Clarence

Williams, Spencer

Wodehouse, P. G.

Wolf, Donald E.

Wolf, Jack

Wolf, Tommy

Wood, Guy B

Woods, Harry M.

Wright, Lawrence

Wright, Robert

Wrubel, Allie

Yellen, Jack

Youmans, Vincent

Young, Joe

Young, Trummy

Young, Victor

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