SATURDAY, September 26, 2020 – 6:24 AM
1925: Gershwin Concerto in F, age 27
It’s composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra that is closer in form to a traditional concerto than his earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue. It was written in 1925 on a commission from the conductor and director Walter Damrosch.
- solo piano
- piccolo, 2 flutes plus , 2 oboes and English Horn, 2 Bb clarinets, Bb bass clarinet, 2 bassoons
- 4 Horns in F, 3 Bb trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba
- 3 timpani, 3 percussionists, bass drum, bells, xylophone
- snare drum, wood block, whip; crash cymbals, suspended cymbal with sticks, triangle, gong
Previn spanned two worlds. He was a fantastic conductor and a superb traditional pianist, but he also spent many years arranging pop and jazz and was an ace improviser. So his understanding of both sides was complete, and in this famous recording – which I own – he not only played the piano but conducted.
Gershwin wrote only one concerto. During his lifetime he was not known as a “classical” composer. His music was incredibly popular, not only with the masses but often with other composers, so you can make up your own mind about what genre this belongs to.
This fits into my personal definition of popular music…
I don’t classify music by conventional periods, nor do I divide music up into popular and non-popular music. I just make note of what music remains popular for a very long time, and since this was written in 1925, for me it fits the mold. It’s almost 100 years later and it remains very popular.
It’s an odd piece of music…
I have friends who don’t like it at all, including some who hate Gershwin, but others think it is one of the best things he wrote. It really does not fall into any category – was it jazz? What is the form? To me it is unpredictable, and you either like it or do not, perhaps like all music.