American Elephants

George Gershwin Plays “Rhapsody In Blue” by The Elephant's Child

The miracle of modern technology has restored to us the real sound of George Gershwin (1898—1937) himself. His singular performance of “Rhapsody in Blue” has been transferred from the original 1920’s piano rolls to a contemporary concert grand piano.  Part 1: played January 1927, Part 2: played May 1925.

His first big national hit was “Swanee” which Al Jolson made famous. Then there was “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Oh, Lady be Good,” “Funny Face,” “Strike Up the Band”, “I Got Rhythm,” “Of Thee I Sing.”

His first major classical work, “Rhapsody in Blue,” was composed in 1924, a most American work. “An American in Paris,” and in 1935, his most ambitious composition, which he called a “folk opera” that crossed all sorts of musical barriers — “Porgy and Bess.” It was a box office failure, which seems bizarre today as we recognize the enormous contribution of George Gershwin to American music.


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