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June 14, 2018

Gershwin feeling “blue”

On 3rd of January 1924 an article in the amusement section of the New York Tribune caught the attention of the American composer George Gershwin and his brother Ira. It was about a concert of new American music to be given by Paul Whiteman, the most popular bandleader of the 1920s, and his Palais Royal Band on 12th of February. “George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto,” ran the article.

It was all news to George. His musical comedy, Sweet Little Devil, was set to open in just three weeks. And now he had to write a concerto by 12th of February as well?

On 7th of January while he was on the train to Boston for rehearsals of his musical, Gershwin sketched out a framework for the new piece. Paul Whiteman had persuaded him to write it.

Gershwin’s original title for it was American Rhapsody. But, by chance, Ira saw the painter Whistler’s work Nocturne in Blue and Green. Why not call the new piece Rhapsody in Blue instead, he suggested.

On 12th of February, Rhapsody in Blue, with its composer as soloist, was premièred in front of a packed house. It is most probably Gershwin’s most famous work.

Listen carefully to projects offered to you even when they come at the worst moments of your business plan. Sometimes the best works are created because people don’t have the time to think much on them. And good projects do not come in standard intervals. One of them might be your “black swan” leading to an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences like in the case of Rhapsody in Blue.

Music of the blog: George Gershwin – Rhapsody In Blue

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Mehmet U. Soyer

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