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Concerts from the Library of Congress: Pick of the Week

Week of January 8, 2021

January of 2021 marks the 97th anniversary of the composition of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." In January of 1924, this piece established Gershwin as an American composer and since then became an icon of American music in the world. In 2019, when asked Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes what music treasure he would like to see while visiting the Library, he said "the manuscript of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.' The George and Ira Gershwin Collection at the Library of Congress includes manuscripts, musical sketchbooks, handwritten or typewritten lyrics sheets, and much more. In 1998, the Library opened the Gershwin Room to acknowledge the Gershwin brothers' contributions to American music. The room is located on the first floor of the Jefferson Building of the Library.

In this edition of the Pick the Week, we include the performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" arranged and performed by pianist Conrad Tao and tap dancer Caleb Teicher. An audio file of the piece by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and the lecture "The Ongoing Composition of Rhapsody in Blue" by musicologist Ryan Raul Banagale. We hope this edition inspires you to learn more about Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and the George and Ira Gershwin Collection at the Library of Congress.

Pick of the Week - January 8, 2021

Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher (performance date: October 23, 2020)

Pianist and composer Conrad Tao joins forces with tap dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher in a brilliant recital of music and dance, both composed and improvised. Each artist earns raves for electric performances. In this program, their debut as a duo, their collaboration is astonishing, with an intriguing music mix and an impressive range of style and mood. Teicher's comment captures the essence of their collaboration: "It's hard to sense where the music starts and the dancing ends, or where the dancing starts and the music ends. They're just one."

Full program selections with timings: 

  • [1:03] Johann Sebastian Bach: Aria from the Clavier-Übung (iv), "Aria mit verschiedenen Veraenderungen (Goldberg Variations)," BWV 988
  • [3:24] Conrad Tao/Caleb Teicher: Improvisation
  • [9:52] Arnold Schoenberg: Fünf Klavierstücke, op. 23: V. Walzer
  • [13:10] Ray Noble/Art Tatum: "Cherokee"
  • [16:50] Honi Coles & Brenda Bufalino, Choreographers: The Coles & Bufalino Soft Shoe
  • [22:58] Johannes Brahms: "Fantasien": IV. Intermezzo in E major, op. 116/4
  • [28:07] David Parker, choreographer: "Song and Dance," based on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Sonata in A major: III. "Alla Turca," K. 331
  • [33:45] Conrad Tao/Caleb Teicher: "Swing 2" from "More Forever"
  • [38:20] George Gershwin/Conrad Tao: "Rhapsody in Blue"
  • [55:32] Maurice Ravel: Sonatine II. "Mouvement de Menuet" [59:01] Johann Sebastian Bach: Aria from the "Goldberg Variations," BWV 988

The Ongoing Composition of "Rhapsody in Blue" (event date: October 14, 2015)

In this lecture, musicologist Ryan Banagale considers the compositional history of George Gershwin's most famous work from its inception to the present day. He uses a variety of manuscripts housed in the Music Division at the Library of Congress.​

Featured Archival Recording

"Rhapsody in Blue" (archival audio recording: 1924)

George Gershwin -- Composer and Piano Solo | Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra -- Musical Group | Ferde Grofé -- Arranger