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George Gershwin:
Rhapsody in Blue

George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.

Music heard in this episode:
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Other shows about George Gershwin:
About George Gershwin
What is a Rhapsody?
Jazz in Classical Music

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About George Gershwin
9/26/1898 - 7/11/1937
Born in America

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York. He taught himself to play the piano at a friend's house by following how the keys moved on a player piano. When the Gershwins finally got their own piano, George surprised everyone by sitting down and playing the songs he had learned by himself.

George liked to compose both classical and popular music, and found a unique way to combine the two. He composed his most famous work, Rhapsody in Blue, in 1924, the same year he also had a hit show on Broadway. Gershwin also wrote the opera Porgy and Bess. He is considered one of the greatest American composers.

See other composers born in America


This Week's Quiz:

1. Which instrument plays the glissando at the beginning of Rhapsody in Blue?





2.For which band leader did George Gershwin write Rhapsody in Blue?

Paul Whiteman

Benny Goodman

Artie Shaw

3. The word “blue” in the title of Rhapsody in Blue refers to the fact that the piece contains what sort of music?


rock and roll




George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue

Composed in 1924
Performed by Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
Richard Hayman, conductor
Kathryn Selby, piano

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