Long-Lost George Gershwin’s First Musical “La La Lucille” Was Found in a Box

Famous composer George Gershwin’s first musical, titled La La Lucille, had its premiere on Broadway at Henry Miller’s Theatre in 1919, and its last known performance was in 1926. Since then, the musical has been considered lost, with only fragments of the musical score preserved. That was until researcher and musician Jacob Kerzner recently found the complete music sheets for the piece while going through archives of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

According to a statement issued by the University of Michigan, where Kerzner is employed, Kerzner was browsing the Samuel French Collection when he saw a box with a “La la [sic] Lucille” inscription. He opened the box, expecting to see the widely known fragments of the musical score. Instead, he found “the complete musical orchestration” of the musical inside.

“It is an incredible thrill to not just deepen our knowledge of what is already well known, but to rediscover ‘lost’ work that offers fresh insight into the Gershwins’ creative spark,” said Mark Clague, editor-in-chief of the Gershwin Critical Edition and interim executive director of the U-M Arts Initiative in a statement.

Gershwin wrote La La Lucille at 20 years of age, and the piece is considered his first complete musical score. The musical is based on Fred Jackson’s book and follows a man named John Smith who inherits a fortune from his uncle but needs to divorce his wife in order to access it.

Following the discovery of the musical score for La La Lucille, musicians from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance performed a couple of songs from the musical during a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Gershwin’s most famous work, Rhapsody in Blue.

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