Combining the Popular and the Classical

George Gershwin was a composer who aspired to combine the popular and the classical. In his “folk” opera, Porgy and Bess, he used folk music, things like work songs, spirituals, and so on, as the basis of his musical style, but he wrote a through composed opera. That means it has music throughout, for the dialogue as well as the set numbers. ( In a musical, there is just music for the set numbers.) In his work Concerto in F, which I have put up for you, he uses the classical idea of a concerto, but his musical style is popular and his rhythm is syncopated.(Gershwin’s very famous Rhapsody in Blue has been called a “jazz piano concerto.” LIsten to the Concerto in F and answer the following:

  1. What is a concerto? How many movements does it have? What is usually the form of the first movement? Look up the term and mention some composers who wrote concerti. Do composers in later centuries such as the 19th and 20th still write concerti?
  2. What do you think of Gershwin’s attempt to fuse the classical with the popular? Is this a viable musical style?

Sample Solution