Rhapsody in Blue

Over the Memorial Day holiday, we had friends come to visit. One request they had was a tour of my art studio, which I happily provided after explaining that it was a mess. My art studio is always a mess.

Our friend Noel had a second request. He wanted to hear Rhapsody in Blue. Now, you probably know that Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is a piece written for piano and jazz band. It’s always been a bit controversial in many ways, for it bridges a gap between classical music and modern music. The Houston Symphony’s website has an excellent article about this famous musical composition:

A Kaleidoscope of America: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

The piece has also been arranged as a piano solo and back in the 1960’s I performed Rhapsody in Blue in recital. It’s fun to play, I’ll admit, but it was never a performance piece I really enjoyed. I much preferred music by the more romantic composers.

Here is a performance of the solo piano version by Anna Magdalena Kokits:

Now, while I did play this in the 1960’s, it’s now 2022, and I haven’t performed this piece in many, many years. I haven’t even practiced this piece since the 1960’s. I no longer had the music and I remembered only a few measures here and there. Sorry, Noel, you’re not going to hear me play any Gershwin.

For what it’s worth, I did later go to Amazon and ordered a “late intermediate” piano arrangement, so maybe I’ll practice a bit and perform this for Noel when he and his wife next come to visit.

So, now it’s time for the usual question: WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ART? And, here’s my usual answer. NOTHING, REALLY.

As so often happens, I had music on my mind, playing in my head, as I worked on an art piece recently. The assignment — from Joy Ting’s watercolor Color Play — was to chose a favorite color and use it to create a monochromatic floral illustration. Of course I chose blue, and that’s when I began humming bits of Gershwin’s famous rhapsody.

Here is the illustration I completed that morning, titled, appropriately “Rhapsody in Blue”.

I like this watercolor painting. I love the blues I used, and I’m happy that I know enough about art that I can tell you this is an example of a camaieu painting.

Camaieu is a technique that employs two or three tints of a single color, other than gray, to create a monochromatic image without regard to local or realistic color. Wikipedia

Just as Rhapsody in Blue is fun to play on the piano, this watercolor bouquet of blue blossoms was fun to paint.

I hope you’ve enjoyed both this little bit of art and music this morning. Have a great day! It’s time now for me to head to the piano for a bit of practice. Gershwin is calling.


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