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From its opening clarinet glissando to its sweeping love theme, Rhapsody in Blue i s one of the most recognisable and frequently performed of all American concert works. Yet according to legend, the piece may never have seen the light of day. George Gershwin, it seems, had cursor y discussion s about a commission for bandleader Paul Whiteman’s ‘ Exper iment in Modern Music ’, but when his brot her Ira saw a note in t he newspaper adver t i sing sa id concer t for 12 Febr uar y 1924 – in just f ive weeks’ time – George realised the commission was fa r more sol id t han he had prev iously understood. The resulting work was premiered as planned, but with Gershw in per forming t he piano par t f rom memor y, as there hadn’t been time to produce a solo score. On page 30 Mer v yn Cooke explores 100 years of t his fa scinat ing ja zzinfused work and its enduring popularity.

Composer George and lyricist Ira were one of Broadway’s most successful collaborative teams, drawing on their close fraternal bond to create such memorable songs as ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘The Man I Love’. The brothers are, of course, just one example of talented musical siblings working in harmony – but unresolved childhood rivalries can sometimes scupper these partnerships. On page 44 Claire Jack son speak s to sibl ing per formers who have cas t chi ld i sh one-upmanship aside to create rewarding careers together.

Charlotte Smith Editor


Merv yn Cooke Professor of music ‘It’s been revelator y to discover, 100 years on, just how controversial Rhapsody in Blue was when it was first performed. George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman cer tainly put the jazz cat amongst the symphonic pigeons!’ Page 30

Jessica Duchen Journalist, critic and author ‘In the past decade there’s been an explosion of awareness about female conductors… or has there? I asked some of the most influential names whether change is more than skin deep – and their answers may surprise you.’ Page 48

Amanda Holloway Music journalist ‘Af ter a lifetime in choirs, it was a delight to be introduced to a Vaughan Williams work I’d never sung. Nothing will displace his Sea

Symphony in my heart, but Five Mystical Songs, written shor tly af terwards, is a lit tle gem.’ Page 66


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