Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

for piano solo and chamber orchestra


George Gershwin (1898-1937) composed his Rhapsody in Blue in a matter of weeks, before its premiere in 1924. It was commissioned by the bandleader Paul Whiteman for his own ensemble, and was premiered at New York's Aeolian Hall in a concert intended to showcase a new style of symphonic jazz. Whiteman's ensemble consisted of 23 players, mostly wind and brass with violins, percussion and banjo. In 1926, with high demand for the piece, the piece was re-scored for a standard symphonic orchestra, incorporating full sections of strings, woodwind and brass. This new chamber orchestra version uses a similar number of players as the original band version, restoring the smaller scale of Whiteman's band, but with the full range of orchestral colour familiar from the orchestral version and from Gershwin's own works.


Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion (Timpani, Crash Cymbal, Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Glockenspiel, Triangle), Piano solo, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass​. Strings must be a minimum of 2.2.2.2.1.


Available to purchase from Aria Editions here


Listen to extracts here:


Opening section (1’23)

Second section (3’01)

Slow section (1’48)

Ending (1’57)