The Rhapsody in Blue (1924) established Gershwin's reputation as a serious composer and has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works. In this richly informative guide David Schiff considers the piece as musical work, historical event and cultural document. He traces the history of the Rhapsody's composition, performance and reception, placing it within the context of American popular song and jazz and the development of modernism. He also provides a full account of the different published and recorded versions of the work and explores the many stylistic sources of Gershwin's music. The book also contains an extended discussion of Paul Whitman's Experiment in Modern Music, considers the influence of the Rhapsody on other works (e.g. the music of Duke Ellington) and examines the traditions and institutions of Jewish cultural populism.
'... the big value of this small book lies in its persuasive advocacy. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue stimulates thought on the social and even philosophical import of crossover music, enabling us to see the piece for what it was and might be ... fuels speculation on the relationship between music and liturgy, and perhaps between dance and song ... of practical relevance to any performance one may experience.' The Musical Times '... a most convincing interpretation of this surprisingly complex work and provides a welcome and stimulating addition to the Cambridge handbook series'. Music and Letters