The Art of Music
Rhapsody In Blue
History of Rhapsody in Blue
" By 1923, the bandleader Paul Whiteman wanted to do something different with Jazz. He wanted to turn the American dance band into something a bit more prestigious, or as Paul Osgood, the author of 1926's So This is Jazz put it, make "an honest woman out of jazz." Whiteman said in 1927, "I never questioned her honesty. I simply thought she needed a new dress." Whiteman invited George Gershwin to perform in his Experiment in Modern Music show with his Palais Royal Orchestra, slated for February 12, 1924. George's brother Ira Gershwin recalled reading an article in the New York Herald on January 4 about the upcoming Jazz concerto, which said that George would be performing. This was news to Ira. George reports that he had started to consider the idea of writing something that pushed "the limitations of Jazz" the previous December. When working out the theme, he heard it as "a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America." "American Rhapsody" became "Rhapsody in Blue" at Ira's suggestion. Whiteman's show began in the afternoon and carried into the evening. The packed house had already enjoyed a full program of some of the America's finest Jazz. A critic for Theatre Magazine wrote, "Mr. Whiteman's jazz concert was often vulgar, but it was never dull." However, it was Gershwin's piece that was the star of the show. The two-and-a-half-octave clarinet glissando is instantly recognizable today, but was not like much that the crowd had ever heard before. "Rhapsody in Blue" commanded three curtain calls, despite the fact that Gershwin had been so rushed to complete the score, he improvised his own piano solo. His manuscript of the music contained blank pages in place of his piano parts. In addition to Gershwin, 18 musicians played a total of 23 instruments at the concert. The piece was arranged by Ferde Grofé." (http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=26801)
Born on September 26, 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, George Gershwin dropped out of school and began playing piano professionally at age 15.
Within a few years, he was one of the most sought after musicians in America. A composer of jazz, opera and popular songs for stage and screen, many of his works are now standards.
Final Days and Death
In the beginning of 1937, Gershwin began to experience severe headaches and noticing strange smells. Doctors that he had developed a brain tumor. On July 11, 1937, Gershwin died during surgery to remove the tumor. He was only 38.
Rhapsody in Blue
"George Gershwin." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <http://www.biography.com/people/george-gershwin-9309643#successes>.
"George Gershwinâ€™s fight against Brain Tumor." Cure Talk. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <http://trialx.com/curetalk/2011/03/george-gershwins-fight-against-brain-tumor/>.
"Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin Songfacts." Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin Songfacts. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=26801>.