Although the American composer George Gershwin is perhaps best known for his jazz-inspired musicals, which he wrote largely in collaboration with his lyricist brother Ira, he also penned a number of other ‘serious’ works including the immensely popular Rhapsody in Blue, a Piano Concerto, and the opera Porgy and Bess.
In 1936, following the completion of Porgy and Bess, Gershwin moved back to Hollywood and was quickly in demand as a film score writer. Walking the Dog, or Promenade as it later also became known, was written as an instrumental number for Shall We Dance – the seventh movie pairing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The music accompanies a sequence of walking a dog aboard a transatlantic ocean liner. It was written in 1936, not long before his tragically untimely death, aged just 38.
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