AMS - Library of Congress Lecture Series
The American Musicological Society and the Music Division of the Library of Congress are pleased to present a series of lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the Division’s collections.
- Wednesday, 14 October 2015, 7 p.m., Madison Building, Montpelier Room:
Ryan Paul Bañagale (Colorado College), "The Ongoing Composition of Rhapsody in Blue"
On paper George Gershwin remains the sole “composer” for Rhapsody in Blue, but the compositional history and cultural iconicity of the work emerges only over time and through the contributions of a multitude of musicians, specifically arrangers. Using documents held in the Music Division of the Library of Congress, my talk begins with an exploration of the complex creative origins of the work. A newly considered fair-copy manuscript recasts our understanding of the compositional contributions of arranger Ferde Grofé to the Rhapsody—a debate that has occupied critics and scholars since the Rhapsody’s 1924 premiere. This source document affords insight into the individual creative processes of Gershwin and Grofé, their collaboration, and the significantly larger role of Grofé in the genesis of the work. It also establishes the Rhapsody as an arrangement from its point of origin. The second part of my talk illuminates the ongoing contributions of Grofé and countless other arrangers to the Rhapsody into the present day. In particular, I focus on the role of a little-known arrangement prepared for summer camp musicians by a teenaged Leonard Bernstein—also a part of the Music Division holdings—on the larger reception of Rhapsody in Blue. Ultimately, this talk elucidates the significant role of musicians beyond Gershwin in the lifespan of the Rhapsody, prompting the question of who is ultimately responsible for one of the best-known “compositions” of the twentieth century.
Call for Lecture Proposals
Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/LC Lecture Series.
Click here for information on previous lectures, including links to the webcasts:
- Spring 2015: Paul Laird, "'A Hint of West Side Story': The Genesis of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms as Seen in the Library of Congress Bernstein Collection"
- Fall 2014: Carol Hess, "Copland as Good Neighbor: Cultural Diplomacy in Latin America During World War II"
- Spring 2014: Nancy Newman, "'A program not greatly to their credit': Finding New Perspectives on the Germania Musical Society through the American Memory Sheet Music Collection"
- Fall 2013: Kendra Preston Leonard, "Meaning and Myth in Louise Talma’s First Period Works"
- Spring 2013: Todd Decker, "Making Show Boat: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, and the Power of Performers"
- Fall 2012: Barbara Heyman, "Samuel Barber: Serendipitous Discoveries"
- Spring 2012: Thomas Brothers, "Louis Armstrong: The Making of a Great Melodist"
- Fall 2011: William Meredith, "What the Autograph Can Tell Us:
Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major, opus 109"
- Winter 2011: Carol J. Oja, "Bernstein Meets Broadway:
Race, the Blues, and On the Town (1944)"
- Fall 2010: W. Anthony Sheppard, "American Musical Modernism and Japan"
- Spring 2010: Steve Swayne, "William Schuman’s Puzzling Seventh Symphony"
- Fall 2009: Walter Frisch, "Arnold Schoenberg's Creative Journey, 1897-1912"
- Spring 2009: Jeffrey Magee, "Now It Can Be Told: The Unknown Irving Berlin"
- Fall 2008: Annegret Fauser, "After Pearl Harbor: Music, War, and the Library of Congress"
- Spring 2008: Judith Tick, "Ruth Crawford Seeger, Modernist Composer in the Folk Revival:
Biography as Music History”