July 2014
Behind the photograph: Rhapsody in Blue

Dimitri Tiomkin at the piano for <em>Rhapsody in Blue</em>

On Thursday, July 10, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at the Hollywood Bowl. Dimitri Tiomkin was among the early adopters of what is perhaps one of the most endearing and enduring of all American concert works. Tiomkin is seated at the piano at the far left in the picture above, taken in May 1926 at a performance of the Rhapsody in Blue ballet, choreographed by his soon-to-be wife, Albertina Rasch. The announcement of the engagement of Tiomkin and Rasch came one day before the Rhapsody ballet opened and the two were married that same month.

George Gershwin’s seminal jazz-influenced composition premiered in New York on February 12, 1924. By the time Dimitri Tiomkin sat down at the piano at the Hippodrome less than a year and a half later to accompany the ballet, the music of Rhapsody in Blue was already being referred to as a “notable classic.” With the stage bathed in blue light, the dancers outfitted in requisite blue costumes, and Tiomkin’s grand piano draped in billowing curtains, the two pianists, Tiomkin and Georg Davidoss, struck up the familiar strains of the Rhapsody as the Rasch dancers moved to the music.

Billboard excerptSpeaking of the Hollywood Bowl, Tiomkin has been no stranger there.

READ MORE: Tiomkin and the Hollywood Bowl

In August, conductor David Newman will be at the Bowl to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a performance of the Hitchcock Suite, featuring Tiomkin’s music for Strangers on a Train and Dial M for Murder.


After the Rhapsody ballet, Tiomkin was at the piano for the European premiere of George Gershwin’s Concerto in F in March 1928.


“Hippodrome New York” by Roy Chatier, The Billboard, May 15, 1926.


(Fourth in an occasional series featuring rare or unusual photographs.)

Behind the photograph: Hairston and Tiomkin

Behind the photograph: Tansman and Tiomkin

Behind the photograph: Dimitri Tiomkin with His Excellency the High Commissioner for Kenya, Mr. Ng-Ethe Njoroge and Mrs. Njoroge at the London premiere of Tchaikovsky





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