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George Gershwin:
What is a Rhapsody?

"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.

Music heard in this episode:
Alfven: Swedish Rhapsody #1
Enesco: Roumanian Rhapsody #1
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody #2
Stanford: Irish Rhapsody #5
Saint-Saens: Rhapsodie D’Auvergne
Chabrier: España
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Rivets
Brahms: Alto Rhapsody
Paganini: Caprice
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Other shows about George Gershwin:
About George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue
Jazz in Classical Music

Download this month's activity sheet

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. The word rhapsody comes from which language?





2.A rhapsody is a free-form composition that stitches different tunes together.



3. Which of these composers did NOT write a rhapsody?

Franz Liszt

Camille Saint-Saens

Antonio Vivaldi

Johannes Brahms


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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