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Feinstein, Michael (b. 1956)  
 
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Gershwin, by that time aged and in ill health, received few visitors, but Levant succeeded in arranging for Feinstein to meet him. Once again, Feinstein's extensive knowledge of the music of the era served him. Gershwin was struck by the young man's interest and quickly hired him as an archivist. He worked for Gershwin from 1977 to 1983.

In Gershwin's house, Feinstein found a treasure trove of musical documents--not only commercially-released records and sheet music but also privately-recorded material and unpublished scores and lyrics. Feinstein catalogued the collection--which grew as Gershwin and his wife acquired more materials at auctions--for eventual donation to the Gershwin Archives in the Library of Congress.

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In 1982, when a number of musical manuscripts by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and other contemporaries were discovered in a warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey, Feinstein identified eighty-seven written by George Gershwin himself and personally delivered them to the Library of Congress.

While working for Ira Gershwin, Feinstein served as a consultant to the production of the musical My One and Only (1982), which was based on George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face (1927-1928).

Feinstein was excited at the prospect of working on a Broadway show but soon became frustrated by the "clash of egos" that he encountered among those involved and by what he saw as a lack of authenticity in various musical selections and arrangements. Although Feinstein was not totally satisfied with the final version, the show, which premiered on Broadway in 1983, was a success.

Feinstein has described his six years with Gershwin as "having lived a dream." The experience was important to him professionally because he learned a great deal about the music and musicians of the Gershwins' era and also, through Gershwin, became acquainted with people in the entertainment industry. In addition, he developed a sincere friendship with Gershwin, whom he admired for his "gentleness of spirit" as well as his talent and knowledge.

Under the terms of Gershwin's will, Feinstein was made one of his literary executors, and so, after Gershwin's death in 1983, he remained at work on various projects, including a book of previously unpublished songs. To Feinstein's disappointment, this work came to a halt when the lyricist's widow, Leonore Gershwin, contested the will. Eventually they were able to come to terms, allowing Feinstein to continue the project.

In the meantime, Feinstein went back to performing in order to earn a living. During the previous six years, his entertaining had been limited to playing and singing at parties given by the Gershwins or their friends.

The contacts that he made there proved valuable. Liza Minnelli became a good friend and called upon him to accompany her when she sang on The Tonight Show. This appearance led to other engagements, both at private parties and in clubs.

Critics praised his performances, citing his "personal intimacy" and "sensual involvement with the music." Gerald Nachman, a critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, called Feinstein "easily the best there is at what he does."

Feinstein's first album, Pure Gershwin (Parnassus Records), was released in 1985. He has since put out nineteen more, including two that received Grammy nominations, Michael & George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin (1998, Concord Jazz) and Romance on Film / Romance on Broadway (2000, Concord Jazz).

Feinstein has performed on a number of television shows including Cybill, Thirtysomething, and Caroline in the City, as well as in the movie Get Bruce (1999, directed by Andrew J. Kuehn), for which he wrote music.

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