Rhapsody in Blue (jazz band)

From Wind Repertory Project
George Gershwin

George Gershwin (arr. Ferde Grofé)

Subtitle: Original Jazz Band Version for Paul Whiteman

General Info

Year: 1924 / 1987 / 2009
Duration: c. 16:00
Difficulty:(see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Schott
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


Full Score
Solo Piano
B-flat Clarinet I-II (II doubling B-flat Bass Clarinet)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (I doubling B-flat Soprano Saxophone; II doubling E-flat Baritone Saxophone)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone (doubling E-flat Soprano Clarinet)
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Tuba (doubling String Bass)
Orchestral Piano
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Turkish Cymbal

Violin A-B-C-D


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue uniquely describes the American spirit of the 1920s. Gershwin was one of the first composers who combined Jazz and classical music. Rhapsody in Blue has earned worldwide renown since its world premiere in 1924, when Gershwin himself sat at the piano and impressed the audience with his innovative work. The conductor Paul Whiteman, who led this premiere, called the first performance of it an "experiment in modern music." The piece shows both melodic and rhythmic inventiveness, as well as a perfect handling of all technical parameters. This "symphonic jazz" diverges from the usual formal patterns and was exceptional in its time.

- Program Note from publisher

Gershwin began composing on January 7 [1924] as dated on the original manuscript for two pianos. After a few weeks, Gershwin finished his composition and passed the score, titled A Rhapsody in Blue, to Ferde Grofé, Whiteman's arranger. Grofé finished orchestrating the piece on February 4 — a mere eight days before the premiere. As Gershwin did not have sufficient knowledge of orchestration in 1924, Grofé was a key figure in enabling the rhapsody's meteoric success, and critics have contended that Grofé's arrangements of the rhapsody secured its place in American culture.

Grofé's familiarity with the Whiteman band's strengths was a key factor in his 1924 scoring. This orchestration was developed for solo piano and Whiteman's twenty-three musicians. For the reeds section, Ross Gorman (Reed I) played an oboe, a heckelphone, a clarinet in B-flat, sopranino saxophones in E-flat & B-flat, an alto saxophone, one E-flat soprano clarinet, and alto and bass clarinets; Donald Clark (Reed II) played a soprano saxophone in B-flat, alto and baritone saxophones, and Hale Byers (Reed III) played soprano saxophone in B-flat, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, and a flute.

For the brass section, two trumpets in B-flat were played by Henry Busse and Frank Siegrist; two French horns in F were played by Arturo Cerino and Al Corrado; two trombones were played by Roy Maxon and James Casseday, and a tuba and a double bass played by Guss Helleburg and Alus Armer respectively. The percussion section included a drum set, timpani, and a glockenspiel played by George Marsh; one piano typically played by either Ferde Grofé or Henry Lange; one tenor banjo played by Michael Pingatore, and a complement of violins.

This original arrangement — with its unique instrumental requirements — was largely ignored until its revival in reconstructions beginning in the mid-1980s, owing to the popularity and serviceability of the later scorings. Since the mid-20th century, the 1942 version was the arrangement usually performed by classical orchestras and became a staple of the concert repertoire until 1976 when Michael Tilson Thomas recorded the original jazz band version for the first time, employing Gershwin's actual 1925 piano roll with a full jazz orchestra.

- Program note adapted from Wikipedia


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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  • Daniels, D.; Oertel. D.W.; Rahbee, D.A. (2022). Daniels' Orchestral Music (6th edition). Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, Md.
  • Gershwin, G. (1987). Rhapsody in Blue: Gershwin 50th anniversary ed., Commemorative facsim. ed. [score]. Warner Brothers: Secaucus, N.J.
  • Perusal score
  • Rhapsody in Blue. Wikipedia. Accessed 25 July 2023