Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White House presents Paul McCartney, with Library of Congress Gerswhin Prize for Popular Song

On June 2, 2010, the White House held a 75-minute “fete” in the East Wing, where President Obama presented Paul McCartney (at one time from the Beatles) with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The prize is based on a lifetime pattern of contribution to music, not on one specific item. WETA rebroadcast the event on Wednesday July 28.

The President introduced the concert by noting that most popular music isn’t intended to last down through generations (a point I have talked about in the inverse), but McCartney was the exception. “Serious” music (we call it “classical”) is supposed to be immortal. I remember being taught that in piano lessons at third grade.

The Jonas Brothers appeared, with Nick the most visible. Jerry Seinfeld appeared to talk about “nothing”. Stevie Wonder and Lang Lang also performed.

The WETA PBS website account is here.

George Gershwin, with "Rhapsody in Blue", "Porgy and Bess" and his Piano Concerto in F, is viewed as the composer who merged classical and "popular" music. That would be a less applicable comment to Leonard Bersntein, whose output gradually became more "serious" in the tradition of Mahler.

Pictures: My own “festival” papers from piano lesson days, and the “trademark” for the Sherwood Music School courses popular in the 1950s (a salesman actually came to our home to present it).

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