Skip to comments.Contemporary American Classics: *Rhapsody In Blue* (good video 16:25 mins)
Posted on 01/04/2014 6:04:01 PM PST by virgil283
"When Rhapsody in Blue premiered at New York's Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924, most people couldn't wait for the evening to be over.
The piece was scheduled near the end of a long program called "An Experiment in Modern Music." After two sluggish hours, the audience was bored, restless, and drenched in sweat due to the hall's broken ventilation system. But then, a lone clarinet pierced through the orchestra, fizzing upward like a fountain of champagne. Suddenly, everyone was riveted.
For the next 17 minutes, George Gershwin, an unknown 26-year-old composer, caressed and pounded the piano at center stage, chasing the orchestra through a thrill ride of skyrocketing notes. It was an unforgettable debut -one that brought new respect to jazz and helped redefine classical music. Today, Rhapsody in Blue is one of the 10 most-performed works of the 20th century,..."
(Excerpt) Read more at americandigest.org ...
I can hear some of it in my head. This talented girl in hs used to practice that one in the music room every extra minute she got. It was too difficult for me, lots of octave chords in rapid progression.
Thank you so much. This recording is my favorite performance of this piece — by Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic. I recognized it immediately, although I checked out the youtube video just to be sure.
An amazing American classic from a time when everybody knew that America could accomplish anything.
There’s always a lot written about how jazz influenced classical/pop music in the 1920s, but what I always found even more interesting (and rarely covered) is how popular music influenced jazz. That is, taking the extremely harsh and raucous tendencies of early jazz (think late-1910s Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Louisiana Five, etc.), and polishing it from what might have been a short-lived craze into a long-lasting musical genre.
It’s interesting how tastes work: I can’t stand Rhapsody in Blue and have never heard the whole thing. I literally couldn’t abide it the first time I hear the clarinet glissando.
Incidentally, among the judges at the competition was Efrem Zimbalist Sr., father of actor Efrem Jr. and grandfather of Stephanie, and in the audience was John Philip Sousa.
After Gershwin won the competition, he went to Paris to (try to) study under Ravel, but Ravel refused to teach him, saying that he would turn into a second-rate Ravel rather than a first-rate Gershwin. French-classical influence on jazz would have to wait another generation, when Darius Milhaud would teach one of Patton's soldiers who stayed behind in Paris in '44, Dave Brubeck. Dave named his first son after Milhaud, and Darius Brubeck went on to teach jazz at KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa after the end of apartheid--and Darius' student, Pamela Myburgh, is today the vocalist for The Arrows, a Christian jazz-pop-fusion duo http://www.thearrowsband.com/
Just for drill I went to YouTube and carefully typed out
R H A
And up popped Rhapsody in Blue at the top of the selection box. Still a hit after all these years. Great music.
Rachmaninov was also in the audience, and he became a fan of Gershwin.
Get Michael Tilson-Thomas’ recording of the original jazz band version of the piece that was performed in 1924. The piano concerto version came three years later.
All it reminds me of is a United Airlines commercial.
True. "Among those present were such figures as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, Walter Damrosch, Jascha Heifetz, Leopold Damrosch, Alma Gluck, Mary Garden, Amelita Galli-Curci, Moritz Rosenthal and Efrem Zimbalist. The influence of the Rhapsody in Blue on Rachmaninoff, who had done little composing since leaving his native Russia six years earlier, was to be heard in his Fourth Piano Concerto, whose premiere he gave with Stokowski in 1926." Rhapsody in Blue: About the Work
There are also two passages in Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” that sound like Gershwin and feel like Gershwin on the fingers.
17 minutes? Most versions i hear are 20-22 minutes long.
George must have played it FAST! LOL!
I once got through the first page, and promptly gave up and switched to an easier version!
love to hear any composer bang out their stuff on a piano.
i once thot i could make software to help composers get their music published (the parts separated. This was before i knew anything about computers). i think somebody did that. compare this version to a modern NYS*** version. It will sound sappy. For Beethoven the best we have today is Artur Schnabel or Leonard Shure.
I love the Proms.
Disney Animation did a great version of “Rhapsody in Blue” on “Fantasia 2000.”
It’s sort of surprising the original Rhapsody was such an instant hit, since the arrangement sounds kinda harsh to me - Ferde Grofe took hold of it and reorchestrated it with more strings and fewer woodwinds and came up with the present standard which is great.....
I played the “Little Rhapsody In Blue” at my one and only piano recital years and years ago. I wouldn’t DARE try an original version....lol
The first time I heard just a part of it was as a kid — it was used in an ad for United Airlines. My favorite recorded version is Gershwin from the Piano Rolls.
1988 United Airlines version
There’s also a Gershwin tune that Paul Whiteman recorded earlier, in 1922, entitled “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.” Always thought it sounded quite advanced, especially with a stirring Henry Busse trumpet solo towards the end.
In 1989 on a United flight from L.A. to Sydney, Australia, they played their new corporate theme song (Rhapsody) about once every 20 minutes...it grew a bit tiresome.
This one isn’t bad.
Promenade. (Walking The dog).
The jazz band version was orchestrated by Paul Whiteman. The orchestral version, which I prefer, was orchestrated by Gershwin himself.
Denis Agay has a very nice “little” Rhapsody in Blue that recaps the main themes. It is only four pages long and is appropriate for a Third Year Student, ranging through three different keys with nice transitions. So far, two of my students have done this piece in recital.
I am actually a rock musician, and teach a very intuitive method of playing. I have had many students ask for “R_I_B” way before they are ready for it, as well as “Fur Elise”. For some reason, those two pieces appeal to Rock musicians!
Here is a Bio of Denis Agay, my favorite “RE-Composer”:
Denes Agay, who is best known for his teaching collections, anthologies and texts for piano study, began playing piano at age 3. Born and raised in a small village near Budapest, Hungary, Agay went on to earn his doctorate in piano composition and performance at Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest in 1934. His father was doubtful that anyone could make a living in the music business, but success was apparent when Agay conducted the Budapest Philharmonic in a performance of a symphony he had composed. Agay also composed and orchestrated music for film.
With the rise of Nazism, Agay left Hungary and moved to New York in 1939 to become an American citizen. In 1942 he enlisted in the army, where he entertained patients in the hospital ward and eventually earned the rank of sergeant. After the war, Agay began teaching, composing, and publishing, in addition to working as the conductor and arranger on the NBC radio show “Guest Star.” One of Agay’s most successful piano series is “The Young Pianist’s Library” that covers a variety of styles and levels.
(No WONDER I love him!)
Thanks so much for all the info. Very interesting and I’ll try to get my hands on one. I don’t play much anymore but sometime when I’m dusting my piano....let’s say every 5 years or so...(kidding) I’ll pull out my hymnal and play a little. It’s really stupid for me not to play any more than I do. :) I love rock music as long as it’s not too “heavy metal”....lol
I love the old hymns, but I write new ones for my church.
My church is all bikers and they love the BLUES, so I do a wee bit of “adapting”.
Perhaps that is why i like Denis Agay so much! LOL!
Much Better than “Wardrobe malfunctions” at Halftime! :-)
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