"Rhapsody in Blue" ~ George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue
~ composed by George Gershwin,
combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects.
One of the best and most diffinitive works of American music.
and one of my absolute favorites. I've collected a number of different
recordings by different artists in different mediums.
Rhapsody in Blue was commissioned by Paul Whiteman for a 12 February 1924 concert entitled "An Experiment in Modern Music," which took place in Aeolian Hall in New York City. The event has since become historic specifically because of its premiere of the Rhapsody in Blue.
A quote of what Gershwin had to say about RIB :
"It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattly-bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer ~ I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise... And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper ~ the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance." ~ George Gershwin
"Rhapsody in Blue" recordings ~
Two audio recordings exist of Gershwin performing the piece with the Whiteman Orchestra,
and a piano roll captured his performance in a piano-solo version. The Paul Whiteman Orchestra
performs the piece in the 1930 film King of Jazz featuring Ferde Grofe on piano.
(I intend to order a copy soon). Since then it has been a favorite of Orchestral performances
as well as a landmark piece for the individual performer
Click on picture to listen to a classic performance
by George Gershwin of 'Rhapsody in Blue'
Versions of "Rhapsody in Blue" in my collection (more yet to find) ~
- 'Paul Whiteman ~ volume 1 ~ Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra with George Gershwin on piano
~ arranged by Ferde Grofe ~ vinyl LP ~ RCA Victor Vintage Series ~ 1968
- One of the original recordings with George on piano ~ 8:59 min ~ some cuts from full version
I haven't charted it out note for note ~ very brisk tempo, as are all the original recordings
You can hear this version by clicking the picture above
Computer file downloaded from the internet ~ public domain
- Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops ~ "Rhapsody in Blue and 113 other Favorites"
Earl Wild on piano ~ Pasquale Cardillo - clarinet solo ~ vinyl LP ~ Reader's Digest 10 record set
- Perhaps my favorite ~ certainly the most unique in it's production ~???~ vinyl LP
One of the most interesting recordings I have was done by some Jazz Ensemble in New York
(?I'll find the album and add greater detail from the cover story when I find it)
They took old Player Piano rolls set down by Gershwin as a piano solo with all the parts.
They then reproduced the piano rolls and covered over all the holes that corresponded
to parts orchestrated for other instruments, leaving the isolated piano part on the new rolls.
They then recorded George, on the Player piano they restored, accompanied by members of the Jazz ensemble.
It is by far the quickest and shortest full version of Rhapsody in Blue I have ever heard, just over 12 minutes,
There are places where the tempo goes off to the races! ~ played at the speed
that was originaly intended for standard Player Piano tempo. ~ vinyl LP
- Denver Symphony Pops ~ Newton Wayland ~
Another version with George on the original Duo-Art Player Piano rolls, very quick also at 13:14 min
~ Platinum Entertainment 2000, remastered in 20-bit digital Home Theatre Surround Sound ~ CD
- Previn Plays Gershwin ~ Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto in F, An American in Paris ~
with the London Symphony Orchestra ~ Andre Previn ~ Pianist and Conductor
~ vinyl LP ~ Angel Label - recorded in England
- Leonard Bernstein ~ Rhapsody in Blue - pianist and conducting The Columbia Symphony,
An American in Paris - pianist and Conducting The NewYork Philharmonic
Columbia Records ~ vinyl LP ~ The Sound of Genius Masterworks Library ~ 1973
- Michael Tilson Thomas ~ Piano with Orchestra ~ vinyl LP
- Rich Ridenhour ~ Piano ~ on his 'Piano Pops' CD
~ with The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra ~ John Varineau, conductor; Samuel Caviezel, clarinet
Recorded January 20, 1996 at DeVos Hall, Grand Rapids, Michigan ~ Centaur Records ~ 17:57 min
- Richard Trythall, pianist and composer ~ The most recent version I've heard ~ uniquely expressive solo performance, the longest version I've heard, I believe, at nearly twenty minutes ~ very nice!
You can download a rehearsal performance in MP3 to listen to, here ~ Trythall - Rhapsody in Blue
or visit Richard's homepage to see more of his works at RichardTrythall.com
- One version downloaded from web ~ Artist unknown ~ 16:00+ minutes ~ computer file
- Rhapsody in Blue ~ New London Symphony conducted by Lionel Atkins
Vinyl LP ~ In the Modlish Collection
- Hamburg Philharmonic ~ David Haines ~ piano ~ 15:38 min ~ CD - comp audio file
- Andre Watts ~ Piano solo ~ 8:45 -abbrev ~ CD - comp audio file
Also I beleive I have a video of Andre recorded from the Arts Channel
Big Band ~ abbreviated versions ~ Not intended for the Rhapsody in Blue purist ~
- Duke Ellington ~ Big Band (short version) quite stylized ~ 4:48 minutes ~ computer file
- Glenn Miller ~ Big Band (short) ~ Stylized ~ two versions ~ 3:28 and 3:05 ~ computer files
- Other odd performances include a shortened concert presentation (3+ minutes?)
by The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps from Madison, Wisconsin, in the Early 1970's
vinyl LP and Cassette and computer enhanced recording
- United Airlines used clips from Rhapsody in Blue as background music for television commercials.
Somewhere on a VHS tape I used to have clips with some of the old TV commercials (don't know if I could still find them)
You can Visit United Airlines page to see current commercials with new clips from Rhapsody
Here is a link to a great site on the Rhapsody in Blue history and more details ~
Click here for a short biography of Paul Whiteman and other interesting related links.
More basic info and associated links posted on Wikipedia .
Updated 19 Nov, 2006 ~ more versions yet to be added
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