Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart:
An Inventory of Their Collection of Gershwin Research Materials at the Harry Ransom Center
Edward Jablonski, 1922-2004
Edward Jablonski was born in 1922 in Bay City, Michigan. His love for the music and lyrics of the Gershwin brothers began as a teenager. Jablonski initiated his correspondence with Ira Gershwin with a fan letter which began a life long friendship. From 1942 to 1946 Jablonski served in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army Field Artillery Corp. After the war he moved to New York City to launch his writing and music career. In 1949 he helped found Walden Records which specialized in American music and in 1950 he completed his B.A. at the New School for Social Research. In 1951 he also did graduate work in anthropology at Columbia University.
His first article, on the exiled Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, appeared in Twelfth Street, a small literary magazine. Throughout his career he contributed to such periodicals as Saturday Review, American Record Guide, and Stereo Review. In 1958 he co-authored, with Lawrence D. Stewart, The Gershwin Years, which brought together many previously unavailable materials from the personal archives of Ira Gershwin and many of the Gershwins' friends and associates. The authors also compiled a comprehensive bibliography of songs and lyrics, with their first performance dates. This book contributes to research in American popular music of the "Jazz Age" and the Gershwin brothers.
The Gershwin Years was followed by other musical biographies and histories. In 1961, Jablonski published Harold Arlen: Happy with the Blues, a musical biography about the composer and his contributions to such Hollywood and Broadway classics as The Wizard of Oz, A Star Is Born and House of Flowers. In 1961 Jablonski contributed to the new edition of Isaac Goldberg's Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of American Popular Music, originally published in 1930 with a forward by George Gershwin. For this new edition Jablonski wrote a supplement section entitled "From Sweet and Swing to Rock n' Roll."
During the early 1970s, Jablonski concentrated his writing on critical analysis of aerial warfare, which he derived from his personal war experiences. In 1973 a second edition of The Gershwin Years was published that included corrections to the first edition as well as further material on Ira Gershwin's career in Hollywood following George's death in 1937. This edition also included an expanded discography and a supplement on existing Gershwin archives, including the Gershwins' non-musical works (i.e., sketches and paintings). The Gershwin Years was adapted for and produced on television, with narration by the celebrated songwriter Richard Rogers. In 1973 Jablonski and Stewart also published in collaboration with The New York Times The Gershwin Years in Song, a song book interspersed with illustrations and text. In 1981 Jablonski edited the Encyclopedia of American Music and in 1992 he published Gershwin Remembered.
Lawrence Delbert Stewart, 1926-2013
Lawrence D. Stewart was born in Champaign, Illinois, in 1926. After attending several colleges he obtained his B.A. in 1948, his M.A. in 1949 and the PhD. degree in 1952, all from Northwestern University. He taught English at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1952 to 1954 and at California State University at Northridge from 1969 to 1977. From 1977 to 1979 he was a Fulbright scholar in Iran and India.
Between teaching positions during the years 1955 to 1968, Stewart served as archivist for Ira Gershwin's private letters, papers, and memorabilia collected from the joint careers of George and Ira Gershwin. It was while serving in this capacity that Stewart met Jablonski and they began their joint book project. The free access and intimate relationship that Stewart enjoyed with Ira Gershwin and his family helped provide unique information and research materials for The Gershwin Years. In 1959 Stewart wrote the booklet entitled The Gershwins: Words upon Music for the Verve Records release Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Books. Much of this material was incorporated into the second edition of The Gershwin Years.
Stewart is interested in the creative method of artists, musicians, and writers with whom he was personally associated. Stewart believed that this interest helped formulate his attitudes toward the relationship between life-as-lived and life-as-literature. Consistent with this philosophy, Stewart has written a critical analysis of the writing of Paul Bowles. This work, Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa (1974), includes reflection on both Bowles's personal and professional relationships, as well as his parallel career as a musician and composer. He is also the author of John Scott of Amwell (1956), concerning the 18th century Scottish Quaker poet. In 1984 Stewart published Artichokes, Lilacs and the Houses of Monterrey.
For more information on Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart see Contemporary Authors.
The Jablonski and Stewart Collection, 1931-1973 (bulk 1957-1973), was generated by the collaborative literary efforts of Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart during the writing of The Gershwin Years (1958, and 2nd edition 1973) and The Gershwin Years in Song (1973), a music song book with illustrations and text. Among the papers are the authors' research materials, correspondence, transcripts of interviews, outlines, holograph and typed manuscripts, galley proofs, page proofs, layout dummies, illustrations and captions, bibliographical notes, and press clippings. Much of the authors' research material was derived from Ira Gershwin's private archives and from personal interviews of the Gershwin brothers' friends and colleagues. The manuscripts have been profusely revised and constitute a record of the "work in progress." Also included are a few original manuscripts of both George and Ira Gershwin, which were a gift from Ira Gershwin to Jablonski and Stewart.
The materials are arranged in two series: Works, 1932-1973 (bulk 1957-1973), and Gershwin Manuscripts, 1931-1955. The Works are arranged in three subseries: The Gershwin Years (1st ed., 1958), The Gershwin Years (2nd ed., 1973), and The Gershwin Years in Song (1st ed., 1973). Materials in each of these subseries follows a chronological order that reflects the process of research, writing, revision, and publication. Often the material reflects the individual contributions of the co-authors.
Among the earliest items is a scrapbook which serves as an early model of The Gershwin Years. The scrapbook contains clippings of articles and photographs from newspapers, magazines and other publications, catalogs, interviews, programs, holograph and typed notes, outlines, and early typed drafts of the text. Of special interest in the scrapbook is the reproduced correspondence of George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward, 1932-1937, that documents the planning and development of their collaborative efforts on the opera Porgy and Bess.
Although the bulk of the correspondence concerns research, illustrations, permissions, and other publication matters, several significant correspondents are included: Carl Van Vechten, Paul Whiteman, Dubose Heyward, Eva Jessye, Vinton Freedley, Vernon Duke, Harry Ruby, Eva Ganthier, Francis Robinson, Paul and Kathie Mueller, and Francis "Frankie" Godowsky. Also among the correspondence is the sixteen page manuscript "Gershwiniana" by Edward Kilenyi, which discusses the formal music training George Gershwin received under Kilenyi's guidance. The correspondence for the 2nd edition also includes a series of letters between Jablonski and Stewart (1972-1973), concerning personal matters as well as the revision. A list of all correspondents in the Jablonski/Stewart Collection is located at the end of this inventory.
The Gershwin Manuscripts, 1931-1955, include original manuscripts by both George and Ira Gershwin. George is represented by a single holograph piano/voice score of "Gone, Gone, Gone," from Porgy and Bess. The Ira Gershwin items include holograph and typescript drafts of lyrics written for the film A Star Is Born. The several versions of these lyrics show Ira Gershwin's creative process in construction of song lyrics. There is also one holograph manuscript of the lyric for the song "Of Thee I Sing."
Open for research
Virginia Maze, 1987; David Hatfield Sparks, 1993