Gershwin was but one of many American artists given their big break by Paul Whiteman (1890–1967), the “King of Jazz.” Among the others were Benny Goodman and Bing Crosby.) Whiteman commissioned “something” from Gershwin for his 1924 Lincoln’s Birthday concert of symphony jazz in Aeolian Hall, New York—a historic event, this,with formidable ramifications for both popular and classical music in the United States.When the composer read in the New York Herald-Tribune that he was at work on a jazz concerto, he decided he had better get busy, and thereupon produced this famous blues forp
Gershwin wrote Lullaby as a student exercise about 1919. His teacher, Hungarian émigré Edward Kilenyi, was giving him a thorough course in classical theory and exposing him to current European composers, such as Schoenberg and Debussy.
When Walter Damrosch, delighted by what he had heard in Rhapsody in Blue, commissioned a piano concerto from Gershwin, the composer had to confront the issue of building from his Broadway-tune and jazz-based improvisational style something that would pass muster in exalted circles.The New York Symphony was not, after all, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra: a certain traditional bent was to be expected of musicians and audiences alike.Many regard the Concerto in F—the old-fashioned title may contribute to this assessment—as Gershwin’s highest achievement, though I find him more relaxed in the episod
The idea for a “rhapsodic ballet” on an American tourist’s impressions of the French capital came to Gershwin during a visit to Paris in 1926. His American supporters, who wanted him to win over the Eurpoean musical circles, were delighted.