Guess what else happened about 100 years ago besides the Spanish Influenza Epidemic? George Gershwin composed Rhapsody in Blue. There are several interesting anecdotes to the story:
GERSHWIN THOUGHT HIS 1924 CITIES WERE BUSY!
As we are all slowing down because of the public health event, we have many commentaries about the speed and busyness of our society and cities. Well, perhaps, it's all relative. In 1924, George Gershwin described American as a vast melting pot, metropolitan madness and unduplicated national pep! That was 96 years ago! per How Fast Technology is Growing: Moore’s law of 18 months doubling of computer speed, is no longer valid. Nevertheless, human ingenuity keeps finding new ways for technology to evolve. The growth of the latter shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
HE CAME UP WITH THE FORM OF THE CONCERTO ON A TRAIN RIDE!
Gershwin told his first biographer Isaac Goldberg in 1931:
It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty 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 metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance.
GEORGE'S BROTHER CHANGED THE NAME BECAUSE OF AN ART EXHIBIT (George and Ira are pictured here)
Gershwin began his work on January 7 as dated on the original manuscript for two pianos. The piece was titled American Rhapsody during composition. The title Rhapsody in Blue was suggested by Ira Gershwin after his visit to a gallery exhibition of James McNeill Whistler paintings, which bear titles such as Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket and Arrangement in Grey and Black (better known as Whistler's Mother). After a few weeks, Gershwin finished his composition and passed the score to Whiteman's arranger Ferde Grofé, who orchestrated the piece, finishing it on February 4, only eight days before the premiere.
THE PREMIER ATTENDEES INCLUDED MANY WELL KNOWN MUSICIANS
Rhapsody in Blue premiered in an afternoon concert on Tuesday, February 12, 1924, held by Paul Whiteman and his band, the Palais Royal Orchestra, titled An Experiment in Modern Music, which took place in Aeolian Hall in New York City. Many important and influential musicians of the time were present, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, John Philip Sousa, and Willie "the Lion" Smith. The event has since become historic specifically because of its premiere of the rhapsody.
I hope you all enjoyed this escape into the life and times of the joy and music of George Gershwin!
1. Wikipaedia - Rhapsody in Blue
2. HostingTribunal.com - How Fast is Technology Growing