The music that made me #2

Or, more precisely, #2 through #umptyzillion.

It it no exaggeration at all to say that George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is why I am a pianist & composer today. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that on my blog before. [UPDATE: yes, and not even that long ago.]

At ages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7—and even now!—when I hear it I want to dance to it, conduct it, play it, inhabit it, be every instrument in the ensemble, shout it to the heavens.

Some funny things regarding me and Rhapsody in Blue:

  • When I started piano, Rhapsody in Blue was what I wanted to play “when I grew up.”
  • I have a distinct memory of working out the first page of the piano solo version very soon after I could read music notation. 
  • I played it in one of those multi-school music evaluation/contests when I was 13. I did not play well, as it was my first encounter with a grand piano and I couldn’t handle the action—way heavier than our upright at home.
  • I quit piano lessons just a couple of years later because I could play Rhapsody already, and really, what could be better than that? (I started up lessons again in college, having met Brahms finally. That will pop up later in this series.)
  • And, in one of fate’s little ironic gestures, when I was invited to perform a concerto with an orchestra back in the 80s, the conductor wanted me to play Mozart (which I did. More on that later too.) Because at that time I had a reputation as a classical pianist (because Brahms got me back to piano & I had degrees in music). But the very next orchestra concert after mine was a different pianist performing… Rhapsody in Blue! (Because he had a reputation as a pop musician.) 
  • You will be pleased to know that I kept my gnashing of teeth secret until this very moment.


PS: I also love love love Gershwin's Concerto in F. In case you are looking for something more.

PPS: More about Rhapsody in Blue and me, here.

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