George Gershwin was an important and colorful American composer and pianist (1898-1937) whose music blended classical, jazz, and other popular styles into some of the most loved American music of the 20th century. His music has been used in many films, televison, and on the Broadway stage. His most known works are Rhapsody in Blue for orchestra and piano, An American in Paris, and the opera Porgy and Bess. Gershwin is one of the coolest!
Rhapsody in Blue was written 1924 and the story behind its creation is extraordinary. Gershwin had a deadline of 5 weeks to compose the work. In his own words, here's what happened:
"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 blues, our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance."