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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
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
An American in Paris
Porgy and Bess (Summer Time)
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.