George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin’s compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), as well as the opera, Porgy and Bess (1935).
Since Porgy and Bess was based in the South, Gershwin stayed in Folly Beach, South Carolina and wrote it there. Of course, he needed a piano, so he visited the local music store, Siegling’s Music House, and chose a Matchless Cunningham Piano. That piano is now on public display at The Charleston Museum.
“Folly Beach”, a book written Dorothea Benton Frank, is set in the town, and the main character describes the Cunningham Piano in this way:
“Cunningham Piano Company, coincidentally also from Philadelphia, has been building pianos for symphonies, academies, and concert pianists since the 1890’s and they were treasured by those who played them. Considering my rudimentary skill level, I was humbled to own one.”