Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G: Resisting Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Faculty Sponsor

Katharina Uhde


Arts and Sciences


Department of Music

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-23-2016


This study looks at the degree of influence that George Gershwin’s (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue (1924) had on Maurice Ravel’s (1885-1937) Piano Concerto in G, Movement I (1931) in reference to the personal dynamics between the two composers. Their interaction encompasses Ravel’s continual denial of giving lessons to Gershwin. Ravel argued that by teaching Gershwin, the latter “might lose [his] spontaneity and, instead of composing first-rate Gershwin, end up with second rate Ravel.” While Ravel had denied many composers lessons, his statement was more out of respect than his want of solidarity. As Ravel composed his Concerto in G, a certain impact of his familiarity with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue became evident. There is an imitation of Gershwin’s 1924 composition, as Ravel heard it in the composers March 7, 1928 meeting, in which he was thoroughly impressed by the Rhapsody. This inquiry draws on motivic and structural analysis through scholarly research, as well as on audio recordings from soloist Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) conducting and playing Rhapsody in Blue with the New York Philharmonic in 1976, and Leonard Bernstein conducting and playing Piano Concerto in G with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946. This study also chooses to utilize the piano and orchestra version of Rhapsody in Blue as this version is most associated with the concerto style.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

McKenzey Zollinger is a junior music education major from Elkhart, Indiana. She has had previous interest in the works and life of the American composer George Gershwin. Interest in this topic peaked after listening to Maurice Ravel's Concerto in G Major, Movement I and noticing how similar it sounded to Rhapsody in Blue. McKenzey plans on obtaining her doctorate in music pedagogy.

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