George Gershwin only has a few weeks to compose a concerto. His piece is supposed to exemplify American music and premiere at a concert entitled "An Experiment in Modern Music." Homesick for New York while rehearsing for a musical in Boston, he soon realizes that American music is much like its people, a great melting pot of sounds, rhythms, and harmonies. JoAnn Kitchel's illustrations capture the 1920s in all their art deco majesty.
Includes a CD of "Rhapsody in Blue" performed by George Gershwin (1925 piano roll) and the Columbia Jazz Band, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.
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Anna Harwell Celenza is a musicologist and the author of several books for adults and children regarding music history and the history of art. Her children’s books include THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY, PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, GERSHWIN'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE, and VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS. Anna lives in Baltimore, Maryland.From School Library Journal:
Grade 1-5–The creation of Gershwin's 1924 masterpiece is the subject of this picture book. The story, rendered in watercolor-and-ink caricatures, opens in the legendary pool hall where George's brother Ira discovers a newspaper announcement for a concert at which his sibling's new jazz concerto is to be featured–only it hasn't been written yet. After the disbelief subsides and the conductor who placed the ad is confronted, the musical genius embarks on a journey in which doubt, inspiration, and frustration overlay frenzied periods of intense work. Celenza's tale, complete with invented dialogue, brings the composer to life. The text incorporates musical ideas to discover the klezmer howl of the opening clarinet, the blues, and the love song for New York in the main theme. An author's note contains Gershwin's words describing the rhythm of the train ride that freed his mental block, providing ideas for content, style, and direction. Kitchel's sensitivity to this source material is especially evident in her spread of multifaceted patterns and images, presented as cameos against a black background; they relate to the composer's concept of a musical kaleidoscope of America. An accompanying CD features Gershwin himself (courtesy of a piano roll). Pair this with Robert Burleigh's Langston's Train Ride (Scholastic, 2004) to compare how a trip on an iron horse affected another American artist from the same period.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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