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Published on May 25, 2011
George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 -- July 11, 1937) 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). Early in 1937, Gershwin began to complain of blinding headaches and a recurring impression that he was smelling burned rubber. Doctors discovered he had developed a type of cystic malignant brain tumor known as glioblastoma multiforme. Although some tried to trace his disease to a blow on the head from a golf ball, the cause of this type of cancer is still unknown. It occurs most often in males, accounts for 52% of all brain cancers, and is nearly always fatal. Gershwin died intestate. All his property passed to his mother. In 2005, The Guardian determined using "estimates of earnings accrued in a composer's lifetime" that George Gershwin was the wealthiest composer of all time.