Vasily Petrenko conducts works by two contemporary composers who made classical music richer and more diverse: Ethel Smyth and George Gershwin.
Ethel Smyth (1858–1944) defied her family and social conventions when she chose to follow her dream of becoming a composer. She studied composition in Germany in the 1870s and 1880s, and in the following decades her music was performed on prestigious stages such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Her opera The Wreckers from 1906 is based on stories from Cornwall in the South of England, about how the local people would lure ships towards the rocks in order to plunder them. She was inspired to write the opera during a stay in Cornwall in 1886.
In February 1924, George Gershwin’s (1898–1937) Rhapsody in Blue was performed for the very first time in New York. The conductor Walter Damrosch was sitting in the ecstatic audience, and he was so delighted with it that he contacted Gershwin the very next day in order to commission a piano concerto from him.
In November 1925, Damrosch conducted the premiere with the New York Philharmonic, with Gershwin himself as the soloist. Gershwin models himself on classical piano concertos in his Piano Concerto in F-Major, with strong additions of jazz, blues and ragtime.
(Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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