Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Wierzbicki, James. “The Hollywood Career of Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 60 (Spring 2007): 133-86.

Despite many claims in the literature that George Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody (premiered 1932) is an expansion of material composed for the 1931 film Delicious, the reverse is in fact true. The orchestral music in Delicious is a truncated version of the existing Second Rhapsody most probably made by studio employee Hugo Friedhofer. This misconception began with early newspaper reviews of the Rhapsody and with early Gershwin biographer Isaac Goldberg, whose chronological error was repeated and warped by later scholars. Given evidence from Gershwin’s sketches and production papers from Delicious, it is apparent that Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody was essentially complete before the Delicious shooting script called for the “Manhattan Rhapsody” sequence, later changed to the “New York Rhapsody” sequence, that featured it. In the film, the main Rhapsody themes are presented diegetically before the nondiegetic orchestral score begins. Additionally, the “New York Rhapsody” sequence imposes a narrative program on the Second Rhapsody in which each theme is tied to an aspect of the film’s story. The main cuts to the Rhapsody involve what Gershwin called the “Brahms theme” and transition material, reducing the approximately fifteen-minute concert piece to six minutes and fifty-six seconds of screen time. Despite being comparable to his famous Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody faced a less-sympathetic reception, in part due to the false notion that it was recycled from a Hollywood film score.

Works: George Gershwin (composer), Hugo Friedhofer (arranger): score to Delicious (155-73)

Sources: George Gershwin: Second Rhapsody (155-73)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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