Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28 - Paul Whiteman

Bandleader Paul Whiteman was born on March 28, 1890, in Denver, and began his musical career playing the viola. After World War I he formed the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, then began recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor) in 1920. The recordings made his orchestra famous nationally, and he became the most popular band director of the 1920s. By 1922 he was earning more than a million dollars annually from multiple band ensembles. His style of orchestrated jazz was frequently the first jazz of any kind that many Americans heard during that decade. In 1924 Whiteman commissioned George Gershwin to compose “Rhapsody in Blue” for solo piano and jazz band, for a now-historic concert in New York he titled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” The “Rhapsody” was performed by his band, with an added section of string players. Whiteman also introduced the evocative “Grand Canyon Suite” by Ferde Grofé in 1931.

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