program notes by composition > S > The Symphonic Gershwin

The Symphonic Gershwin

George Gershwin/arr. Warren Barker

The Symphonic Gershwin contains three familiar works:

An American in Paris is a “rhapsodic ballet”, inspired by an overseas trip in 1928. An opening section is followed by a rich “blues” with strong rhythmic undercurrent as an American visitor, perhaps after strolling into a cafe, succumbs to a spasm of homesickness. In a coda, the spirit of the music returns to vivacity and bubbling exuberance, taxi horns contributing to the street noises and atmosphere.

Rhapsody in Blue was first performed by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1924 with Gershwin playing the as-yet-unscored piano part “from the music in my mind.”

Cuban Overture embodies the polyrhythmic essence of the rumba with the unique percussive aspects of the island’s music.

George Gershwin (1898-1937) was a gifted American writer of popular songs, musical comedies, a folk opera and other art music. With his brother Ira as lyricist he wrote over a dozen successful musical comedies. He successfully blended popular and classical music.

Warren Barker (1923-2006) arranged this music. Educated at UCLA, Mr. Barker was an American composer for film, radio, television and Las Vegas clubs. He composed the incidental music for the hit 1960s TV series Bewitched and he composed and arranged numerous pieces for concert band.

Last updated on March 6, 2020 by Palatine Concert Band