About this work
This successor to Rhapsody in Blue actually had its genesis in a planned ballet sequence in a 1930 Hollywood musical, set against a backdrop of urban bustle and building construction. Very little of this music made it to the film, so Gershwin adapted it to this form, originally calling it "Rhapsody in Rivets" but, probably wisely, renaming it to its more generic title. You can still hear the pounding sound of riveters in the very beginning, but the beat quickly metamorphoses into a Latin-American rhythm with jazz emphasis. The second main theme of the work, occupying a central, slower section, is in the form of a blues song. The two themes join in the faster and dramatic conclusion. It is a fine composition, much more imaginative in form and scoring than Rhapsody in Blue, but it has a harder, more modern edge to it. Fine as the blues theme is, it does not match the sweeping melody of the earlier Rhapsody. Although Gershwin's real fans appreciate it, it does not enjoy the wide affection of the earlier work.