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Rhapsody in Blue George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue About the Composer George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) is one of America’s most famous composers. His music blended the sound of classical, orchestral music with that of jazz music that was immensely popular in the early 20th century. For much of his life, he worked with his brother Ira, composing music for orchestras, and for film. About the Music Rhapsody in Blue (1924) was written in the style of a concerto, to portray life in New York City in the early 20th century. A concerto is a piece of music that features a soloist, in this case a piano that is accompanied by an orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue is much more of a jazz concerto than a traditional concerto sounds, and was inspired by the rhythms and sounds of a train ride that Gershwin took just a few weeks before the piece was supposed to be performed. He finished the composition just a few days before the first performance. About the Soloist The featured piano soloist for this concert is Jeffrey Biegel (b. 1961). Mr. Biegel has performed extensively around the world, with an impressive collection of premier performances and recordings. He is also an avid composer and currently teaches piano at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY). Excerpted from http://www.jeffreybiegel.com/bio.htm About the Author Anna Harwell Celenza is the author of numerous books about music, for children’s and adult audiences. She is currently on the music faculty at Georgetown University. Her book Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue tells the story behind the music and the composer, and is available from Charlesbridge Publishing. Listening Links Rhapsody in Blue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynEOo28lsbc An American in Paris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU1X3Wut-k0 Porgy and Bess (Summer Time) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7-Qa92Rzbk Porgy and Bess is Gershwin’s opera, based on a 1925 novel entitled Porgy. This novel tells a story of a street beggar in South Carolina in the early 20th century. The opera was first performed in 1934 by an all-African-American cast and is still frequently performed this way. Like most of other Gershwin’s music, the music for Porgy and Bess is influenced by the sounds of jazz and American folk music.