Three Preludes (arr Norris)

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George Gershwin

George Gershwin (arr. Norris)

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General Info

Year: 1927 /
Duration: c. 7:10
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: U.S. Marine Band
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Allegro ben ritmato e deciso - 1:35
2. Andante con moto e poco rubato - 3:35
3. Allegro ben ritmato e deciso - 1:15


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Three Preludes (1926) are short piano pieces that Gershwin first performed at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1926. His original intent was to compose a series of twenty-four piano preludes, but the number was reduced to seven in manuscript form, five in public performance, and finally three when they were published in 1926. The works are dedicated to Gershwin’s friend and musical advisor Bill Daly.

The first prelude, in B-flat Major, begins with a five-note bluesy motive, from which nearly all the music is derived. Syncopated rhythms based on the Brazilian Baião and chords containing flat sevenths occur throughout, demonstrating the strong jazz influence in the movement.

The second prelude, in C-sharp minor, begins with a subdued melody written over a smooth bass line. The harmonies and melodies of this piece are built on thirds, emphasizing both the flat third and seventh scale degree, also called blue notes. In the second section, the key, tempo, and thematic material all change to a livelier sort, finally returning to a slow, melodic finish. Gershwin himself referred to this piece as “a sort of blues lullaby.”

Early listeners called the third prelude, in E-flat minor, “Spanish.” After a brief and dramatic introduction, the main theme is presented: two melodies that together form a call-and-response pair. This melodic conversation is used throughout the piece. After a brief, syncopated middle section, the melodic pair returns in octaves, alternating between major and minor tonalities.

- Program Note from the University of North Texas, Denton, Wind Symphony concert program, 19 November 2015


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • United States Marine Band Washington, D.C. (Jason K. Fettig, conductor; Kristin Bowers, clarinet) - 8 July 2021

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