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Among This Morning’s Piano Favorites: Gershwin Follows Up

Posted By: Alan Chapman · 4/17/2013 9:00:00 AM

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue dates from 1924. The next year Walter Damrosch had an idea. Damrosch was the conductor of the New York Symphony Society and his idea was that it: “might be a lovely and important inducement for Gershwin’s artistic future to commission him to write a piano concerto.” Damrosch was thinking of a conventional concerto in three movements (as opposed to the free form of a rhapsody).

Gershwin later remarked that the commission showed great confidence on Damrosch’s part because had never written anything for a symphony orchestra before. Rhapsody in Blue had been orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. But now Gershwin would do it all. With tongue in cheek, Gershwin said that he rushed out and got four or five books on musical structure so he could find out what a concerto was.

Gershwin’s Concerto in F is a masterpiece created by a composer who never attended a conservatory, spent no time studying in Europe, and had just a few years of private instruction. Gershwin explains:“I had gone to concerts and listened not only with my ears, but with my nerves, my mind, my heart...Nobody expected me to make music. I just did.”

Pianist Orion Weiss plays Gershwin’s Concerto in F at 10:00 this morning. For more about our Top 88 Piano Favorites week, go to kusc.org/piano

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