Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin in our Sound Library in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the composer's memory.

“Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin is in our Sound Library to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the composer's memory.

On July 11, eighty years ago, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, George Gershwin, died. Pianist-virtuoso and a daring experimentalist, like no one else, he combined various musical trends in his creative work and reflected the atmosphere of the jazz era in his music.

Gershwin considered jazz a unique phenomenon, more than just a certain style. "I hear the whole musical kaleidoscope of America in it - our huge seething cauldron, our national vital pulse, our songs ..." - wrote Gershwin in the mid-20s.

It was he, who brought jazz to a new level of popularity and official recognition. Here is how the American bandleader and music critic Walter Damrosch said about it, “Many composers walked around jazz like cats around a plate of hot soup, waiting for it to cool down, to enjoy it without fear of burning their tongues, as they were used to the lukewarm, distilled liquid prepared by the cooks of the classical school. Lady Jazz, adorned with intriguing rhythms, walked dancing through the entire world, right up to the Eskimos in the North and Polynesians in the South Islands. However, nowhere did she meet a knight who would introduce her as a respected guest into the higher musical society. George Gershwin performed this miracle. He was the prince who took Cinderella’s hand and openly proclaimed her a princess, causing the wonder of the world and the rage of her envious sisters."

Young Gershwin began playing the piano at the age of 12 and already in 1916, by the age of eighteen, he released his first composition "When You Want ’Em, You Can’t Get ’Em." This debut attracted the attention of the music community to the young composer.

Within a couple of years, Gershwin's music - songs, performances, and the first opera written in 1922 – was performed in Broadway. His popularity grew, and many melodies immediately after the premiere became the hits. Gershwin was fantastically efficient and created more than 10 musicals a year.

"Rhapsody in Blue" is one of the well-known Gershwin’s works for piano and orchestra. The premiere concert in New York on February 1924 gathered the entire cream of the music community and was a great success. Twenty-six-year-old George Gershwin performed the piano part in the presence of the eminent masters (Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jascha Heifetz, and others attended the concert) and earned a well-deserved ovation for "the rhythmic ingenuity and original sense of harmony.

To commemorate the memorable date, we present a rare recording of "Rhapsody in Blue" performed by George Gershwin (piano part) and an orchestra directed by Paul Whiteman.