The gifts were a portable turntable with vinyl Long Play records of George Gershwin's music. This collection would include Rhapsody in Blue a song that brought the composer immediate fame and the very popular, *An American in Paris.
In his speech PM LHL went on to say, "I am not sure we made much of this sample of American technology and culture at the time, but looking back, that gift symbolised America's spirit of dynamism, spontaneity generosity and warmth - the American values that my father greatly admired all these years."
It is true of George Gershwin because when the American people heard his music for the first time, they believed it captured the voice of modern American culture and were enthralled with his compositions.
I first heard Gershwin as a child in the 1950's and remember listening to many of his compositions over the radio. The music spanned both popular and classical genres so it was natural that I learnt the same.
Some of his well-known pieces include: I Got Rhythm, Someone To Watch Over Me, Embraceable You, Swanee, S'Wonderful, The Man I Love, I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise, I've Got A Crush On You, Somebody Loves Me and the list goes on. One of his most famous was, Summertime from the opera.
Gershwin's songs swarmed the hit parade charts and dozens of singers and musicians had recorded them. The outstanding list include personalities like: Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Al Jolson, Bobby Darin, Bing Crosby, Janis Joplin, John Coltrane, Mel Tormé, Billie Holiday, Yehudi Menuhin and group The Moody Blues.
Let's look at these figures. Born at the end of 1898, George Gershwin passed away in the middle of 1937 at the young age of 38. His songs are still being recorded in the 21st Century, more than 100 years later.
Symbolically these Gershwin gifts were appropriate for a statesman like LKY since they encompassed the spirit of dynamism and spontaneity. Both personalities BTW were born in September, GG on the 26th and LKY on the 16th.
*Musical is currently on Broadway now. Wow!
1. LHL speech: ST/A40/Opinion/26.09.2015.
2. George Gershwin: Internet.
Images: Blog background cartoon by Al Hirschfeld and Google.