Happy Birthday George Gershwin

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Today marks the birthday of George Gershwin, born Sept. 26, 1898, a composer who colorfully captured the spirit and energy of New York City in his 1924 Rhapsody in Blue

For this week's Showdown, we asked you to select your favorite from three great Gershwin works: Rhapsody In Blue, An American in Paris and the Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra. With more than 50 percent of the vote, at noon we played the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, with Leonard Bernstein conducting and at the piano, performing Rhapsody in Blue.


Comments [30]


Hopefully the 2nd Rhapsody finally got played.

Dec. 26 2014 04:07 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Gershwin's birthday coincides with the anniversary of the first Sousa Band concert held on this date in 1892 at the Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, NJ. In the 20's, Sousa did in fact play Gershwin's music with his famous band and was in the audience at the premiere of Rhapsody In Blue. Sousa made a clever arrangement of "Swanee" that was a hit with crowds everywhere the band traveled. While Sousa was not a proponent of jazz, he did offer it to demanding audiences and said of it - after hearing jazz, it's the kind of music that makes you want to bite your grandmother! Happy Birthday Mr. Gershwin! Perhaps WQXR will celebrate John Philip Sousa's birthday which falls on election day - November 6th.

Sep. 26 2012 08:22 PM
Diane from Maplewood, NJ

I wanted to hear the Blue because of the performer more than the piece. It is delightful that you have a recording to watch on the website. I never heard Bernstein play live, but I did hear him conduct and heard him at a lecture. I was riveted, and remember he said people accused him of being so showy in his conducting. His father wanted him to be a rabbi, and he said he became instead the Rabbi of music- he was didactic. "I want everyone to see what I see and hear what I hear." When asked what his father thought of what he had become Lenny quoted him as saying something like "How did I know he would become Leonard Bernstein?" meaning that was a pretty good second choice career dad could deal with!

Sep. 26 2012 11:54 AM
Noha Simsaa-Omara from Washington DC

Remind me why I love Rhapsody in Blue please.

Sep. 26 2012 11:53 AM
Richard Green from Brooklyn, New York

It's the clarinet that got to me, so, it'll have to be Leonard Bernstein :-) What a beautiful way to say Happy Birthday George Gershwin and it was only yesterday we were wishing Glenn Gould his! Hip, Hip, Hooraaaay, for WQXR, When is You Birthday, WQXR?! You are Great!!!!

Sep. 26 2012 11:53 AM
Joseph Schwarz from now of Brooklyn NY

A favorite Gershwin piece is so hard to choose! Anything of his is really great. You do not have the time to play ALL of Porgy and Bess but that is the real winner in my book. To me one of the greatest regrets about Gershwin is that he was not around long enough for us to be hearing (and maybe voting on!) his 5th or 6th symphonies.

Sep. 26 2012 11:28 AM
Raymond Banacki from Brooklyn, New York

Last year, I attended a student concert of classical music at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

But, when the students and a guest soloist brought us "Rhapsody in Blue", the audience was held spellbound and finally erupted into tremendous applause.

George Gershwin composed one of the greatest pieces of music with "Rhapsody in Blue" and, so, of course, I vote for that piece and, needless to say, Leonard Bernstein at the piano.

And welcome back, Midge, but you haven't told us anything about your trip to Germany and Switzerland.

Sep. 26 2012 11:17 AM
Anne Moses from NewYork NY

If the second rhapsody doesn't make it this time---please play it soon.

Sep. 26 2012 11:12 AM
Sharon from Maplewood, NJ

Rhapsody in Blue was the first piece of classical music my Dad introduced me to and so began my love of classical music.

Sep. 26 2012 11:10 AM
Lola from Manhattan

I vote for Rhapsody in Blue, Bernstein conducting.

Sep. 26 2012 11:05 AM
Judy from NJ

My son played the solo piano version of 'Rhapsody in Blue' at his high school's annual Jazz Concert quite a few years ago. It's always been one of my favorites. Anything by Gershwin!!

Sep. 26 2012 11:00 AM

I vote for the Second Rhapsody as so many others on this board are doing.
Although all of the choices are wonderful (or should I say 'S Wonderful?), I hope WQXR will find a way to include the other choices in their programming for the rest of today. The Second Rhapsody isn't heard live or via broadcast as much as the others are. Maybe we can begin the push to have it return to regular radio and concert programming along with Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.

Sep. 26 2012 10:59 AM
jean rinaldo

All three are my "favorites".... but I agree with Monty in Brooklyn we do not hear the second rhapsody as often as the other two works.... so lets hear it for Michael Tilson Thomas.

Sep. 26 2012 10:58 AM
Nora Walsh from Chestnut Ridge, NY

Less people are familiar with the Second Rhapsody, so please play that one. It's what you do so well at WQXR; bring us our treasured, well-known favorites but broaden our horizons as well. Thank-you for that and for reminding us of this American Treasure today!

Sep. 26 2012 10:54 AM
Jim in Omaha

It's my birthday too, so I should get two votes for the less-heard Second.

Sep. 26 2012 10:44 AM
Sue from Tampa from Tampa, FL

The Second, please.

Sep. 26 2012 10:37 AM
Christina from Lodi, NJ

I ♥ny i♥gershwin i♥rhapsody in blue

Sep. 26 2012 10:33 AM
Monty from Brooklyn, NY

We hear the American in Paris & Rhapsody in Blue many, many times. The Second rarely. So let's hear it now!

Sep. 26 2012 10:14 AM
Anita Bushell from Brooklyn

Happy Birthday to one of my all-time favorite composers...no one was more New York than Gershwin.

The choices, the choices...having just heard Rhapsody in Blue on the soundtrack to Woody Allen's Manhattan (absolute genius) I have to vote for one I may have never heard! The Second Rhapsody for Piano, please...

Thanks, QXR, for another great day in New York!

Sep. 26 2012 10:01 AM
Beatrice Parides from UWS

Rhapsody in blue represents for me all that is New York. It's moody, silken, brash, loud and...wonderful!

Sep. 26 2012 09:58 AM
Karen Langro

I just love Rhapsody In Blue, whenever I hear this piece I think of New York. The sultry, sassy sound just shouts New York! George Gershwin was so talented! Such a shame to die so young, He and his brother Ira loved each other so much. The song Our Love Is Here To Stay is really about the great love between the brothers. Happy Birthday up there in Heaven George!

Sep. 26 2012 09:49 AM
Tom from Montclair, NJ

I love all three pieces, but as with many others commenting today, I believe we need to expand our horizons. Play the 2nd Rhapsody for piano & orchestra, please. Thanks as always for making your station as accessible as it is. The listener request hour is wonderful!

Sep. 26 2012 09:31 AM
Carol from Bronxville

What a wonderful slate of choices - I was torn between the familiar Gershwin I've loved with American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue. But I thank you for giving me the opportunity to expand my musical horizons with the Second Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra. That got my vote.

As usual, I'll be happy no matter which piece wins!

Sep. 26 2012 08:56 AM
LES from Washington DC

Happy birthday, George.

Your music is transcendant, uniquely American.

The solo piano version of Rhapsody in Blue, please.

Sep. 26 2012 08:46 AM
Julia de Bary from Verona, NJ

Happy Birthday Mr Gershwin!!! The selection is great but... Second
Rhapsody is not very often on the radio....I will vote to hear it!
Thank you WQXR for your great job

Sep. 26 2012 08:41 AM
Bernie from UWS

Agree with Tim, let's hear the Second Rhapsody. It's never played and we should be expanding our horizons instead of getting what we already know.

On a separate note, I never understood why Gershwin's serious works like American in Paris or Concerto in F aren't played on regular concerts - and not relegated to pops programming. Their great, sophisticated American pieces. Orchestras like the NY Phil seem to think they're too lightweight to play on a subscription program but I disagree.

Sep. 26 2012 08:30 AM
Tim Brown from washington DC

Happy Birthday George Gershwin! Rhapsody in Blue is on the shortest list of greatest hits of all time, but I vote we listen to the Second Rhapsody today, it is so seldom played. Thanks QXR for another fun contest!

Sep. 26 2012 07:56 AM
Tina Ray from Fairfield, CT

My father gave me a record- yes, a record- of Rhapsody when I was 7 and an aspiring ballerina. It remains my favorite piece of music.

Sep. 26 2012 07:47 AM
Karen from New York

Very selfishly I would love to hear "An American in Paris" - since I am flying there this evening after being too long away.

Sep. 26 2012 07:42 AM
Tom Boschert from Manhattan, NY

I like Rhapsody in Blue - the solo piano version played by Gershwin. I don't think Rhapsody was ever meant to played by a full orchestra, although it is interesting.

Sep. 26 2012 12:39 AM

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