George Gershwin was the first composer to mix symphonic music with jazz He came up with a new American sound
When Gershwin lived (early 1900’s) America didn’t have a serious classical music style of its own. American composers borrowed ideas from European composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin
There was a new kind of popular music going on. It was called jazz Jazz was invented by African-American musicians who used ideas they brought with them from Africa.
Africans mixed their exciting beats and rhythms with the music they heard here in America. You can still hear these types of beats in rap music today. They combined work songs from slave times, they invented spirituals from the hymns they heard being dragged to church.
Jazz music is improvised. This means its Made up as they go along African-American jazz players never write down the music so pieces never sounded the same way twice.
When George was little, he lived in New York, a rough, tuff place to grow up in Crowded neighborhoods Not many playgrounds or parks Kids played in the street
George didn’t seem to have much of an interest in music until one day when was about seven or eight years old: George was roller-skating through a neighborhood in New York called Harlem……
Harlem was filled with clubs where African-American jazz musicians played. George never forgot never forgot the exciting beat to this music From that time on he often roller-skated or hitched rides to Harlem just so he could sit outside the clubs and listen.
George decided he would learn everything he could about music right away. <ul><li>Started going to concerts </li></ul><ul><li>Listened to classical and jazz music </li></ul>
When George turned twelve, a wonderful thing happened: His parents bought a piano! It was really for his brother Ira but as at least there was a piano in the house…..
Everyone was surprised when George started playing the piano It sounded like a mix between classical and jazz. It was a sound no one had ever heard before.
He was lucky to find an excellent piano teacher and he started taking lessons. By age 15 he got a job in an area of New York called Tin Pan Alley.
In the early 1900’s there were no radios yet. Record players were not invented If someone had a new song they would go to Tin Pan Alley. The composer would have to impress the publishers by sitting down at a piano and play through their composition.
George played the piano at Tin Pan Alley. People would stop by and listen. It was the only way someone could listen to new songs. There were no radios and not many people had record players in their homes.
George became well-known all over New York. He started getting invited to parties given by rich and famous people. He would play all night long. It is there that he met a guy called Paul Whiteman.
Paul Whiteman was a very important band director. He asked George to write a symphonic, jazz-style piece for his orchestra for a big concert coming up that year.
George named his piece “Rhapsody in Blue” He wrote this piece while on a train trip. The noise of the steel wheels on the tracks and the train’s clickety-clack rhythm gave George lots of ides for his new music.
George loved big city sounds He heard music in the noise of machines, traffic and other big city sounds.
The famous concert took place on Feb.12 th 1924 People all over the country tuned in on their radios, and the concert halls were packed.
Hardly anyone could believe their ears. Rhapsody in Blue began with a clarinet making a long whooping, laughing sound that had never been heard before. Then George came in on the piano. Which sounded like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK_ShoOL2ao http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDsPydW3Y54&feature=related
When it was over people couldn’t stop clapping. They loved it! “ Rhapsody in Blue” has become famous all over the world. It was the the first musical piece that combined jazz and classical music.
“ Rhapsody in Blue” was the result of a boy listening to Jazz and combining it with classical music.