Celenza, Anna. Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue. Watertown, Massachusetts: Charlesbridge, 2006. Reading Level: 6.0 Interest Level: 3-6 Genre Historical Fiction Annotation Anna Harwell Celenza tells the story behind the music in this fictionalized account of the creation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Every elementary music teacher will want to thank her for creating an interesting exciting resource to use in his or her classrooms. While based on actual events, the author recreates conversations that may have taken place. George Gershwin reads in the paper that he is to perform a new composition at a concert at Aeolian Hall in five weeks. The problem is that he has not started writing it yet! George goes to Harlem to tell his friend Paul Whiteman that he can’t do it. Paul gives him a pep talk and convinces George that he can compose a concerto in five weeks. Being a musical genius, George tries to compose the concerto but he has no ideas. He listens to the great composers of the past and he tries to improvise, but still, nothing. Finally, on his way to Boston for rehearsals of his new musical, George is inspired by the sounds around him. He remembers the music of his youth and decides to use the music that is already in his head! Klezmer, foxtrot, ragtime and blues are incorporated into his new concerto. Still, George feels that something is still missing. Buddy invites George to join he and Ira at a swanky party on Madison Avenue. While at the party, George begins to improvise on the grand piano. Inspired by the lights of New York City, he creates his missing theme for his concerto. Originally George named the piece, American Rhapsody but his brother Ira suggested that it needed more pep and the title was changed to Rhapsody in Blue. The sold out concert takes place on February 12. The audience is bored with the same old fare and they begin to get restless and start to heckle the orchestra. Others begin to leave, Paul rushes George to the stage and the orchestra starts to perform the new concerto. The music stops the fleeing audience in their tracks. I can feel the electricity of the moment in the author’s words. I can hear each note as she describes the scene. The accompanying cd is still in its case in the back of the book. Perhaps it is because I remember this music so well. Or perhaps it is because I am fan of Gershwin’s music. It has been years since I listened to this concerto, but I can hum the tune and I remembered this from my childhood. I am so glad that it is included just in case you do not know this American classic. After all this is why it was created, so that our children will know the music of our great composers. Booktalk Do you have a tune that sticks in your head and you hum it all the time? Some days I hear a song on the radio and it plays over and over again. I have a favorite tune that I would like to share with you today. But before we listen to the music, I want you to know the story behind its creation. George Gershwin was a musical genius that created a lot of music we still sing today. (This is probably where I would break into a few bars of Celestine Bloomfield Indian Creek Elementary School firstname.lastname@example.org
Summertime. Or “Bess, you is my woman now.” Or “I got plenty of nothing, nothing’s plenty for me.” Pick your favorite tune to sing. Kids always get a kick out of this!) The music I am sharing today has no words to it. It is a concerto called, Rhapsody in Blue. Play the cd. It is almost 14 minutes long so you could just play a part of it.
About the Author
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Author Website http://www.charlesbridge.com/contributorinfo.cfm?ContribID=26 Our author grew up on a farm in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. Music and the arts have always played an important part of her life. In high school she played drums in the jazz band and in the marching band. She also plays the cello. Anna Harwell...
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