George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F

One year on from his Rhapsody in Blue and George Gershwin was at it again. Despite the knockers (and they are always there, even today) Gershwin proved that he could write a coherent piano concerto not once but twice.

In an era when several composers were trying to make an assault on jazz, working from the outside in, Gershwin worked from the inside out. His increasing mastery of the classical orchestra took the classical music world by storm.

With help from tutors such as Joseph Schillinger, and prompted by some wise but possibly cruel words by fellow composer Glazunov, Gershwin erased his shortcomings just as easily as if they were slips on the manuscript. The Concerto in F (the proper title omits the word piano) was premiered by its commissioners, the New York Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Walter Damrosch, with the composer himself playing the piano. As Damrosch said in the concert’s programme: ‘George Gershwin seems to have accomplished ... [a] miracle ... he is the Prince who has taken Cinderella [jazz] by the hand and openly proclaimed her a princess to the astonished world, no doubt to the fury of her envious sisters.’

Recommended Recording

André Previn (piano); London Symphony Orchestra. EMI Classics: 5668912.