The Music Plays On — Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Donato Cabrera
3 min readJun 13, 2020
George Gershwin

We love Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, from Leonard Bernstein’s many traversals of the piece, including his famous recording from when he was music director of the New York Philharmonic (and my first recording),

and this extraordinary live performance in 1976,

and his final recording, which he made with the Los Angeles Philharmonic,

to André Previn’s classic recording with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1970.

However, there are five versions, all made during Gershwin’s lifetime, that are quite distinct from one another and certainly worth hearing!

Paul Whiteman

Rhapsody in Blue was premiered February 12, 1924, by Paul Whiteman and his band, the Palais Royal Orchestra. The composer, Ferde Grofé, orchestrated it from Gershwin’s piano version that he just finished in the nick of time. It is scored for three woodwind players doubling on oboe, clarinet, sopranino saxophone, two soprano saxophones, two alto saxophones, one tenor saxophone, one baritone saxophone; two trumpets, two French horns, two trombones, and one tuba (doubling on double bass); a…