George Gershwin's Piano Concerto

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Shortly after George Gershwin’s premier of his iconic Rhapsody in Blue in 1924,

a conductor named Walter Damrosch commissioned Gershwin to write a piano concerto that was

based on a Classical concerto with orchestration. Like it’s rhapsodic cousin, this piece is a unique

fusion of Classical and Jazz styles and is great fun to both play and listen to.

Like the traditional concerto model from the 18th Century, this concerto was written in three

movements in this order: fast, slow, fast. Another flashback to the past that is unconventionally

evident in this concerto is “organicism,” which in music, means that all of the movements of a

piece are thematically related. Typically, in the Classical tradition, those recurring motifs
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Gershwin’s Concerto in F, both of his concerti were blends of Classical and Jazz. The concerto

that we will hear tonight, his Concerto in G, was written between 1929 and 1931 and
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The first movement, like the Gershwin Concerto in F, starts off in a percussive way, but with

just one beat by an interesting instrument (a clapper) which sparks playful and watery arpeggios

from the piano soon after. The flute provides little dance-like rhythms to join those arpeggios,

followed by quick rising and falling piano glissandos that create rainbows of brilliant colors.

The first flute theme returns soon after, which then transitions into a slow and mysterious slow

theme from the piano which gives off an almost bluesy feel. That particular flute theme, along

with the slow piano theme, could be classified as main themes of this movement because both

return after a developmental episode that follows the first appearance of the slow theme.Towards

the end of this movement, we get a long series of magical-sounding ascending and descending

piano trills which then fall into a very low, but ambitious bass line which carefully (but

quickly) builds up into a climactic and cheerful finale that concludes the movement with an

exciting boom at the
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