Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuneful Tuesday ~ Gershwin and Levant - Their Friendship

We watched a 1945 movie, Rhapsody in Blue on TCM the other night. It's the story of George Gershwin's rise to fame. Oscar Levant, as himself, played a prominent part in the film, being one of Gershwin's oldest and closest friends. I've written about Oscar Levant already, in this post from 2011. He was, as the post title indicated "an unusual Capricorn type".
Oscar Levant was something of a renaissance man: pianist, composer, author, comedian, wit, and actor. His "shadow side": hypochondriac, neurotic, addicted to prescription drugs, spent time in mental hospitals. He was considered to be near-genius. His own comment on this: "There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."

Levant was a brilliant pianist, his renditions of his long-time friend George Gershwin's compositions are considered second only to Gershwin's own.

I haven't looked at George Gershwin's chart before. A potted bio can be read at Astrodatabank.

It could be an interesting exercise to try to identify why the two became such close friends. The full interpretation of Levant's chart is at my 2011 post linked above, this time I'm looking only for links to the chart of Gershwin.

Oscar Levant, born 27 December 1906 in Pittsburgh, PA at 11:45 PM (Astrodatabank).

George Gershwin, born 26 September 1898, Brooklyn, New York at 11:09 AM (Astrodatabank)

 Oscar Levant

 George Gershwin
The close friendship between the two men doesn't immediately leap out from their charts. Natal Moons are in highly compatible signs, Gemini and Aquarius - that's a start. Levant's Virgo ascendant would understand Gershwin's Mercury in Virgo - both men were perfectionists - when it came to their music and performance. Levant's Venus at 00 Sagittarius is conjunct Gershwin's Uranus at 00 Sagittarius, and Gershwin's Uranus is conjunct Saturn, giving it a Saturnian blend which matches Levant's Capricorn Sun conjunct Uranus - I see this as the most likely key element of their friendship, along with their compatible Moons.

These men are two more examples of genius brought forth from the Pluto in Gemini generation.

Quality of sound in some YouTube offerings of Gershwin/Levant isn't very good. So as to feature Gershwin's longish and wonderful Rhapsody in Blue with something to watch at the same time - do go see and listen to
the Vimeo video HERE,
..it comes from Fantasia 2000, on which artist/cartoonist Al Hirschfeld served as a consultant with his drawings used for the basis of this segment, accompanying Rhapsody in Blue - it captures the highs and lows of depression-era New York.


mike said...

I've read that one person's natal, personal planets placed in the other person's first house can be significant for friendship. Gershwin's Sun & Jupiter fall in Levant's first house...Levant's Mercury falls in Gershwin's first. Gershwin's first house sign-ruler (Jupiter-Sagittarius) is in Libra, which would fall in Levant's first house...Levant's first house sign-ruler (Mercury-Virgo) is in Sagittarius, which falls in Gershwin's first house (note that Levant's extended first house sign of Libra is supported by both Venus and Mercury in Sagittarius).

Levant was known as the piano-interpreter of Gershwin's compositions. Gershwin has Mars on his S Node in the sign of Cancer, with Levant's Neptune in Cancer conjunct. This is in Gershwin's 8th house of collaboration & joint effort; Levant's 10th house of fame & notoriety.

mike (again) said...

They had root commonality, too:

"Duke and Levant represent the flip side of Gershwin's reach. They were positioned primarily on the opposite side of the tracks, musically speaking, making their careers in popular music, radio, and film. Yet they too crossed over and did so much more conventionally than Gershwin. The three shared many experiences and attitudes. All were concerned with audience access–with popularity, a term so often disparaged in the concert world. All had Russian roots–Gershwin and Levant as children of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants and Duke as part of a community of Russian exiles, including also Igor Stravinsky and Serge Koussevitzky, that settled first in Paris and later emigrated to America. All led bi-coastal lives, feeling as much at home on a Hollywood set as a Broadway stage. And perhaps most fundamentally, all felt the strain of a created life divided between two modes of musical expression."

Twilight said...

mike~ I hadn't come across the first house idea you describe (re friendship). It works well here. Thanks for that, and the other astro pointer.

Yes, their shared Ukrainian Jewish background would certainly have drawn them together, even more so back then than now, I guess.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Your post timed 1.54PM, though received in my e-mail notifications, hasn't appeared on the blog or in the blog's spam or awaiting moderation files.

I'll copy it here - and thank you - two interesting articles on the first house and linked synastry.
Something to watch for, when birth time is known.

FROM MIKE (1.54 PM) -comment lost in cyberspace...

Here are a couple of links regarding 1st house synastry: