You Are Viewing

Category Archives: classical

Second-Rate Rhapsody

Unrefined brilliance may be a thousand times more striking than uninspired finesse, but such realities are not always obvious to the artist at work. How did George Gershwin’s opinions of his Second Rhapsody measure up to those of the public? Read on to find out! By Cassidy Goldblatt “Second-rate: adj., of mediocre or inferior quality.” Applied to George Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody (1931), it’s only a halfway accurate description, applicable more to public sentiment than to the work’s compositional coherence. George described the piece as, “in many respects, such as orchestration and form, . . . the best thing I’ve written,” […]

The First Memorials: Early Obituaries Struggled to Conceptualize George Gershwin’s Legacy

By Sarah Sisk The startling news was emblazoned on the front page of the New York Times on Monday, July 12, 1937. George Gershwin had died that Sunday despite an emergency operation to remove a brain tumor and save the 38-year-old composer’s life. The news came as a complete shock: while he had suffered from what was deemed a “nervous breakdown” in the weeks preceding, the real source of his ailment was discovered in his final hours, and far too late. In the days and weeks to follow, obituaries cropped up in newspapers across the country, as reporters and columnists […]

Reintroducing the Sopranino Saxophone to Rhapsody in Blue: Interview with Saxophonist Edward Goodman

The Grofé orchestration of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue calls for a wide range of saxophones, including one of the smallest members of the family–the sopranino. U-M DMA saxophonist Edward Goodman played the sopranino in our 2014 test performance and came by our office to talk about it. Edward Goodman. While the day-by-day in the Gershwin office has us predominantly editing musical notes on a page, live performances—like the one that just took place with the Reno Philharmonic—are a vital part of the critical edition process. Test performances are in many ways our dress rehearsal, pulling all the parts together […]

Testing Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris – Laura Jackson

On February 21 and 23, the Reno Philharmonic gave a test performance of our current drafts for Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. The response from the orchestra and the audience was fantastic, the performance a success, and our editor-in-chief Mark Clague was able to explore his suspicions about the taxi horn pitches in An American in Paris (see the New York Times article). Here, conductor Laura Jackson provides her own response to the edited scores and considers how the newly reintroduced material fared in performance. Q: Now that the concert is over–and was a huge success–what material did you find you […]

Spotlight on the Conductor: Laura Jackson

This coming Sunday and Tuesday (Feb. 21 & 23), the Reno Philharmonic will be performing the Gershwin Initiative’s new, critically-edited versions of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue. We sat down with Laura Jackson, music director and conductor of the Reno Phil, to talk about her experiences with Gershwin, our new editions, and her upcoming concerts. Q: Hello, Laura, and thank you for spending a little time with us.  To get right to it: What are some of the things that excite you the most about your upcoming performances of Rhapsody in Blue and An American […]

When Blue Was New

When Blue Was New: Rhapsody in Blue‘s Premiere at “An Experiment in Modern Music” In the Roaring Twenties, American bandleader Paul Whiteman embarked on an audacious mission: to organize a classical concert of all-jazz repertoire. To do this, he commissioned a piece from a young George Gershwin, leading to the creation of one of America’s most famous musical compositions. ~Sarah Sisk is an undergraduate English major at U-M’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. She is working with the Gershwin Initiative as an undergraduate research assistant in the university’s UROP program. In the early 1920s, ragtime was out and […]

On the Fringe of Fire—The Music of George Gershwin without Boundaries

George Gershwin was among the world’s first “Crossover Artists,” a master of not only opera, stage, and screen, but as well, of melding the styles of popular jazz with those more traditionally identified in the symphonic orchestra. As such, his music invites new and fresh interpretation, while still retaining the essence of Gershwin’s own artistic identity. Jazz trumpet professor Bill Lucas leads the project and points out: “As a Symphonic musician with serious jazz roots, it is often difficult to have to play Gershwin’s music within the orchestra, so straight laced, without any of the tools a jazz musician is […]