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Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton is a famous physicist and philosopher of the 17th century, whose intellectual power, inspiration and systematic imagination found no equal one in the whole history of science. His contribution in the development and progress of mathematics thought still remains unsurpassed. Newton was born on December 25, 1642, at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire. His father, a farmer, also named Isaac Newton, died very shortly after the birth of his son. His mother Hanna got married to another man, so little Isaac was brought up by his grandmother. Even having a lack of parents’ attention, he had very happy and joyful childhood. In 1661, after finishing Grantham Grammar School, Newton joined Trinity College in Cambridge, where he was creating his early works and theories.

newtonNewton is considered to be the scientist, who actually formed the structure of Mathematics and Calculus the way we all know it in our modern epoch. In his principal work, “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”, which he published in 1687, he reshaped the main principles and systematized his mathematics knowledge in order to make it applicable for his physics theories and experiments. In other words, he started using a number of own mathematical approaches for better formulation and expressing his discoveries in physics, like, first of all, his famous laws of motion and the theory of universal gravitation, etc.

One more significant contribution of Newton in mathematics knowledge was his Direct and Inverse Methods of Fluxions, which he was developing during investigating of mathematical category of series and methods of interpolation. It is known now as the Theory of Differentials and Integration (the name was offered by Leibniz, who was working on the same issues at the same time, but independently from Newton). Newton offered famous Method of Quadrature for integration using graphics of the functions. He worked on the Theory of Differential Equations: in particular, he invented Inverse Method of Tangents for finding the solutions; also he introduced the system of literal indexes. In addition, Isaac Newton created famous Binomial Theorem, which, actually, became the source of creating his whole system of Calculus.

During his investigations in algebra, Newton has been discovering and systematizing some points of analytical geometry: in particular, he has formed the system of classification of curves as transcendental and algebraic; he has developed mathematical knowledge about asymptotes, axes, points, etc. The achievements of Newton at other fields of science were highly connected with his mathematics investigations of non-linear behavior of variables. Newton’s main development in physics was discovering gravity, and he applied this knowledge in astronomy and has been investigating effects of gravity on planets. He made a number of principal discoveries in mechanics and in dynamics, like, for example, developing of theory of static. In optics Newton has been investigating refraction of light and emission, or using his knowledge he constructed famous Newton Reflecting Telescope.

In 1669 Isaac Newton was honored to be elected Lucasian Professor in mathematics. Also, in 1672 he was accepted to Royal Society of England, and soon became its President. He is the author of a large number of scientific works, tractates and other publications, which inspired dozens of other brilliant discoveries and caused outstanding breakthroughs in the development of the whole humanity. Isaac Newton’s ideas became perfect base for whole modern progress in science knowledge and practical technologies. Famous Czech physicist and scientific philosopher Ernst Mach gave the following comment on the importance of Newton’s mathematics genius: “All that has been accomplished in mathematics since his day has been a deductive, formal, and mathematical development of mechanics on the basis of Newton’s laws.”

George Gershwin (Part II)

A combination of the elements of jazz and folk with traditional symphonic compositions is considered to be a unique musical approach of Gershwin. The first attempt of such creative experiment was his opera 135th Street, which, indeed, was not very successful. But the next work in the framework of this “mixed” style, The Rhapsody in Blue (1924) for piano and orchestra caused shock in American musical world. Despite of a certain lack of proper form and numerous repetitions, this composition was an example of exceptional vivid rhythmic and melody. Also, it included a bouquet of American national tunes, that is why it become one of the most popular compositions of all American concert works.

george_gershwinThe next symphonic work was Concerto in F (1925), which marked a new era in Gershwin’s experiments with jazz and swing. The concerto has innovative musical concept, and till today it remains matchless with its emotionality. Soon, Gershwin created a sort of symphonic dance, named An American in Paris (1928). This work can be called a “symphonic poem”, with its unique wideness of blues melodic and emotional development of harmonic connections. Gershwin’s fundamental symphonic masterpieces were not just a combination of tunes, but large indivisible works of art. Gershwin was among the first  composers, who tried to base their works on improvisation and developing repetitions of the principal tunes and melodies.

Undoubtedly, ballad folk-opera Porgy and Bess (1935), written on the novel by DuBose Heyward Porgy, was the peak of Gershwin’s artistic career. It is one of the first attempts to present various problems and daily life of ethnic minorities in American culture. This masterpiece has the most mature music of the composer. BEsides, it is the best and most successful American opera of all times, though it received different reviews of critics after its premiere in New York. The opera includes a number of Gershwin’s life-best compositions: Summertime, Bess You Is My Woman Now and I Got Plenty of Nuttin are three most known of them.

In 1937 Gershwin started feeling terrible headaches and doctors diagnosed brain tumor. In summer of 1937 he passed away. He was only 39, and he forever remained in minds of American people as an outstanding musical innovator, who created a new style of American music, which we all know today. Beautiful songs written by George Gershwin can be heard in more than 90 movies and TV Series. Some of his stage musicals, like Girl Crazy, and his opera Porgy and Bess were published as different TV versions, and a great number of his songs were borrowed by cinema sound directors to express emotional moments of their movies. In 2004 Gershwin’s song I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise became a part of soundtrack for Oscar nominated movie The Aviator.

Being a brilliant composer, Gershwin gained good fame as a talented pianist. After his piano performances, hundreds of enchanted spectators used to rise up and applaud for 20 minutes. He played all the premier performances of his own works, and also he gave a lot of concerts, playing music of other composers. His performances were exceptionally emotional, sincere and exciting, and he could make any boring composition live and breath with his expressive playing.

George Gershwin

george_gershwin George Gershwin belongs to the category of exceptionally gifted artists, who died young and could not implement a great deal of own plans and ideas. Despite his short life, musical and creative inheritance of Gershwin is significant: he wrote about thirty musicals and operettas for theater and cinema, and was the author of many popular songs, which are well familiar to modern people. Born in 1898 in Brooklyn, New York, in a family of Russian immigrants of Jewish origin, future music genius Jacob Gershowitz was demonstrating his talents and endowment since early childhood. At the age of six he began getting interested in playing piano. For very short period of time George achieved an incredible progress in playing by ear, and left his brother Ira, who was receiving lessons from professional teachers, far behind.

The family was rather poor, and, being unable to afford fundamental musical education for George, the parents used the services of cheaper private musicians. At the age 12, George became a student of Charles Hambitzer, who made the strongest influence on Gershwin. Hambitzer trained young George in piano techniques, harmony, orchestration, improvisation, and also made him familiar with music of progressive European composers. Later on, Gershwin was tutored by a number of other famous composers, such as Rubin Goldmark or Joseph Shillinger,  who taught him the basics of composition and artistic arrangement. During the first years of his musical career Gershwin was regularly performing at Remick’s Music Publishing House in Tin Pan Alley as a song plugger: a piano player showing the songs to be sold to the producers. This work was an incredible experience for the young composer, and during this period of time he made first efforts on composing some own songs, similar to the ones he had to perform. In 1916 he officially published his first composition and signed it up as George Gershwin.

For some time he continued earning money as a pianist, working on writing more and more songs and even musical comedies. In 1919 the premier of his first stage musical La, La, Lucille had a great success in Broadway and, a year later, his song from this musical, Swanee, performed by Al Jolson, brought nationwide fame and popularity to young talented composer. Within the first year, Swanee‘s record sales exceeded one million copies sold around the country, and it was just the beginning for Gershwin. Together with his brother, Ira Gershwin, George wrote a great deal of stage musicals and compositions for stage shows and performances of Broadway and other American theaters. The most famous of those are Lady, Be Good (1924), Oh, Kay (1926), Girl Crazy (1930), Strike up the Band (1930), and Of Thee I Sing (1931), which can be characterized with special rhythmic patterns and original intonations. Almost all the musicals of Gershwin brothers were staged and successfully performed.

During whole his musical career, Gershwin used to be captivated by music of many world’s composers of the beginning of the twentieth century, including Dmitriy Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg, and many more. But the influence of French masters of composition, namely Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Darius Milhaud, was the most considerable and the most rooted in Gershwin’s works. Some of these composers were his mentors, like Stravinsky or Ravel. The latter used to highly estimate and value matchless musical talent of Gershwin, encouraging his musical advancement. In his letter to Gershwin, Ravel once wrote: “Why should you be a second-rate Ravel when you can be the first-rate George Gershwin?”

(to be continued)