Friday, October 16, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 238: Listen to George Gershwin’s “Concerto in F”

George Gershwin, around 1935.
Several years ago, I read an interesting article about composer George Gershwin, whose life was cut short in 1937 when he was just 38 years old. Gershwin wrote a number of famous musical compositions, but arguably the most famous is his “Concerto in F.” I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever listened to this well known musical work, which is why I put it on my “bucket list” a few years ago.

On Sunday, I set aside enough time to listen to Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” from start to finish. It took me only a few minutes to find a complete recording of it on YouTube, and once my earplugs were in place, I listened to the whole thing. Some of it sounded familiar, but I enjoyed finally listening to the whole thing – and officially scratching it off my “bucket list.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Gershwin’s “Concerto in F,” it was written in 1925. Like most traditional concertos, it was written for a solo instrument (in this case a piano) with an orchestral accompaniment. Also, as with most traditional concertos, “Concerto in F” is in three movements, that is, the Allegro, the Adagio - Andante con moto and the Allegro agitato.

“Concerto in F” was first publicly performed at Carnegie Hall in New York on Dec. 3, 1925. Gershwin played the piano, and he was backed up by the New York Symphony Orchestra. Walter Damrosch, the 63-year-old who commissioned the work’s composition, conducted the orchestra during the sold out concert.

If you’d like to listen to Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” for yourself, it’s relatively easy, especially if you do what I did. Just go to YouTube and type “Gershwin Concerto in F” in the search field. The search results should give you a wide variety of recordings to check out. The one that I listened to was 33 minutes and 56 seconds long.

I listened to the entire concerto from start to finish in one sitting and enjoyed it. I listened to much of it with my eyes closed, and some of it sounded familiar. I honestly couldn’t put my finger on where I’d heard it before, but I’m sure that I’ve heard some of it played during TV commercials and on cartoons.

If you enjoy listening to Gershwin’s “Concerto in F,” you might want to check out some of his other well known works, including the music for 1928’s “An American in Paris” and the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.” Gershwin is also famous for his 1924 composition “Rhapsody in Blue,” which is similar to a concerto in that it was written for a solo piano and a jazz band (rather than a traditional orchestra).

In the end, how many of you have listened to Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” from start to finish? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? What other works of music would you recommend listening to? Let us know in the comments section below.

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