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The best American composers
Born in Brooklyn to a Ukrainian father of Jewish descent and a Russian mother, George Gershwin straddled the classical and popular line with great success. He is best known for his orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, as well as his opera Porgy and Bess (pictured). Based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy, the opera tells the story of African-Americans living in the slums of 1920s South Carolina. In caused quite a stir when it opened in segregated New York in 1935 with an all-black, classically trained cast. Gershwin’s famous work wasn’t accepted as a legitimate opera in the USA until the 1970s, but is now considered part of the operatic repertoire and is regularly performed internationally.