On this Day Factola

February 12, 1924

Debut of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue - "A Birthday for American Music"


Original Sheet Music



George Gershwin, shown in an undated photo (AP Photo)


Rhapsody in Blue premiered on February 12, 1924 at the Aeolian Hall, New York City, New York. The composition was commissioned by the bandleader Paul Whiteman.

Many important and influential musicians of the time were present, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, John Philip Sousa, and Willie "the Lion" Smith.[11] The event has since become historic specifically because of its premiere of the rhapsody. - Wikipedia

In his book America on Record - a history of recorded sound (1) Andre Millard writes the following about that first performance:

Its first performance was called "a Birthday for American Music."(2) It evoked musical images of American life, especially life in the big city. Gershwin wrote: "I hear it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of American - our vast melting pot, our blues, our Metropolitan madness." (3)

See Wikipedia's Rhapsody in Blue "Recordings" section for details about existing recordings performed by Gershwin and for a link to George Gershwin playing his Rhapsody in Blue, February 24, 1924.


Late 1930s reissue of the 1927 electrical release of Rhapsody in Blue as Victor 35822A by Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orchestra with George Gershwin on piano.




VOGUE Picture Record Rhapsody in Blue R726, 1946








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