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Rhapsody in Blue (arr Hunsberger)

From Wind Repertory Project
George Gershwin

George Gershwin (arr. Donald Hunsberger)


Subtitle: Setting for Piano and Wind Ensemble


General Info

Year: 1924 / 1998
Duration: c. 18:00
Difficulty: V (solo) /IV (band) (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts - $200.00   |   Score Only - $50.00


Instrumentation

Solo Piano
Flute I-II (Flute II also covers Piccolo)
Oboe
Bassoon
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II
Bb Bass Clarinet
Saxophone 1: Alto/Sop
Saxophone 2: Alto/Sop
Saxophone 3: Tenor/Sop
Saxophone 4: Baritone
Bb Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Tuba
String Bass
Banjo
Trap Set (Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Cymbals, Gong, Bells, Triangle)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

On January 4, 1924, Ira Gershwin brought a brief item in a New York Tribune to the attention of his younger brother George. Its heading read “Whiteman Judges Named. Committee Will Decide ‘What Is American Music.’” According to the advertisement (purely a media ploy), Paul Whiteman had assembled an impressive group of musicians including Sergei Rachmaninoff and Jascha Heifetz to witness a concert of new American music. This concert was to be presented on the afternoon of February 12, just five weeks later. Included would be “a jazz concert” on which George Gershwin was currently “at work.” Busy with his show Sweet Little Devil, Gershwin had not yet begun to compose such a concerto, though he and Whiteman had casually talked about his writing a special piece for the band.

Gershwin began work on Rhapsody in Blue on Monday, January 7. Though a gifted melodist, he was ill-equipped to score the accompaniment. To assist him, Whiteman offered the services of his chief arranger, Ferde Grofé, who completed the score on February 4. The first of five rehearsals was held immediately, during which several modifications were made both to Gershwin’s music and Grofé’s arrangement. Most notable among these is the change in the opening clarinet solo. Gershwin had originally written a seventeen-note slur; however, Ross Gorman (Whiteman’s lead reed player) improvised the signature clarinet “wail.” According to contemporary reviews, the concert was rather dull, but Rhapsody in Blue was received enthusiastically by the audience, which included Jascha Heifetz, Victor Herbert, Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, [[John Philip Sousa[[, Leopold Stokowski and Igor Stravinsky.

In the years to come, there were a number of versions of Rhapsody in Blue produced to satisfy public demand for as many accessible renditions as possible. As the work’s popularity increased, the desire for a published large ensemble version led to Grofé’s 1926 setting for theatre orchestra. This was followed subsequently by an expansion of the theatre orchestra score for full symphony orchestra and a version for concert band, both by Grofé as well.

This edition of Rhapsody in Blue, arranged by Donald Hunsberger, preserves characteristic timbres and transparent qualities of the orchestral setting while texturally capturing – despite the absence of strings – its innate vertical densities. Gershwin’s personal copy of Grofé’s symphony orchestra score (housed in the Library of Congress) has been used as its primary research source. Select string substitutions found in Grofé’s band setting have also been incorporated along with scoring options from the manuscripts of his theatre orchestra and Whiteman Band versions (both also in the Library of Congress.)

- Program notes from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble concert program, 8 March 2013


Commercial Discography


Audio Links

Reference recording. Ensemble and conductor unknown


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Andrew Esch, conductor; Dan Campolieta, piano) - 17 August 2019
  • Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (James Colonna, conductor; Carrie Gallagher, piano) – 28 April 2019
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor; Miguel Sousa, piano) – 28 April 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Sarah McKoin, conductor; Tatiana Mann, piano) – 28 March 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor; Michael Chertock, piano) – 17 April 2018
  • The Hartt Omni-Ensemble (West Hartford, Conn.) (James E. Jackson III, conductor; Yoshino Toi, piani) – 31 March 2018
  • United States Military Academy Band (West Point N.Y.) (Tod Addison, conductor; Yalin Chi, piano) – 20 January 2018
  • University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Wind Symphony (John R. Stewart, conductor; Yi Hsien Li, piano) - 27 April 2017
  • University of Georgia Hodgson Wind Ensemble (Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor; Evgeny Rivkin, piano) – 2 March 2017
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Anton Nel, Piano) – 14 February 2017
  • Musikhochschule Trossingen, Germany (Hye ryung Kang, piano; Alexander Beer, conductor) - 28 February 2015
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble (Andrew McMahan, conductor; W. Terrance Spiller, piano) - 8 March 2013
  • Pensacola Civic Band (Kadisha Onalbayeva, piano) - 13 March 2012

Works for Winds by this Composer


References

  • Gershwin, G.; Hunsburger, D. (1998). Rhapsody in Blue : Setting for Piano and Wind Ensemble [score]. Alfred: Van Nuys, Calif.