Lullaby was originally conceived in 1919 as a string quartet by the then 21 year old student composer, George Gershwin. George’s brother, Ira, remembers early performances by friends being invariably welcomed whenever it was played but after a few months the manuscript was stored away, not to see the light of day for four decades. In 1962 Ira showed the score to harmonica virtuoso, Larry Adler, who then set about producing a transcription for harmonica and string quartet. It was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963, where the work was warmly received.
Lullaby was not publicly performed in its original form until 1967 when it was played by the Juilliard String Quartet in a widely broadcast concert held at Washington’s Library of Congress. The quartet released a recording of the piece in 1974 since when Lullaby has enjoyed enduring popularity.
Being a lullaby this is gentle, lyrical, muted music. Ira rather fittingly summed it up saying, “It may not be the Gershwin of Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F … but I find it charming and kind”.
For copyright reasons this arrangement is not available to buy in the USA