Gershwin Award Winners

In recognition of George and Ira Gershwin's contributions to American music and in honor of their gift to UCLA, the UCLA Student Alumni Association established the annual George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement in 1988.

About the Gershwins

World-renowned songwriters George and Ira Gershwin were born in New York City in the closing decade of the 19th century. George, the composer, and Ira, the lyricist, began developing their craft as teenagers. Their first Broadway song came in 1918 with “The Real American Folk Song is a Rag” in the show Ladies First. A few years later, the brothers helped launch the career of Fred Astaire in one of their first hit Broadway shows Lady, Be Good. In the 10 years that followed, George and Ira wrote a dozen more musicals including Girl Crazy and Of Thee I Sing, the first musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1932.

The Gershwins came to Hollywood in the mid-1930s to work on films, but the move was shortly followed by George’s untimely death at the age of 38. Following his brother’s death, Ira continued to work, setting new lyrics to many of George’s old melodies and collaborating with other composers on numerous musicals. He lived to be 86.

In less than two decades, George and Ira Gershwin fashioned 14 musicals, four films and the landmark opera Porgy and Bess, solidifying their place among the great American songwriters. In 1936, George and Ira Gershwin adapted the title tune from their musical Strike Up the Band as a new Bruin fight song for the growing University, “Strike Up the Band for UCLA.”

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