Damrosch had been present at the February 12, 1924 concert arranged and conducted by Paul Whiteman at Aeolian Hall in New York City titled An Experiment in Modern Music which became famous for the premiere of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, in which the composer performed the piano solo. The day after the concert, Damrosch contacted Gershwin to commission from him a full-scale piano concerto for the New York Symphony Orchestra, closer in form to a classical concerto and orchestrated by the composer.
Gershwin would later receive formal training and lessons from influential figures like Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger and Arnold Schoenberg in advanced composition, harmony and orchestration; however, in 1924 he had had no such training. Under the pressure of a deadline to complete the work in 1925, Gershwin bought books on theory, concerto form and orchestration and taught himself the skills needed. Because of contractual obligations for three different Broadway musicals, he was not able to begin sketching ideas until May 1925. He began the two-piano score on July 22 after returning from a trip to London, and the original drafts were entitled "New York Concerto". The first movement was written in July, the second in August, and the third in September, much of the work being done in a practice shack at the Chautauqua Institution. This had been arranged through the Australian composer and teacher Ernest Hutcheson, who offered seclusion for Gershwin at Chautauqua, where his quarters were declared off limits to everyone until 4 p.m. daily. Thanks to this, Gershwin was able to complete the full orchestration of the concerto on November 10, 1925. Later that month, Gershwin hired a 55-piece orchestra, at his own expense, to run through his first draft at the Globe Theatre. Damrosch attended and gave advice to Gershwin, who made a few cuts and revisions.
The Concerto in F shows considerable development in Gershwin's compositional technique namely because he orchestrated the entire work himself, unlike the Rhapsody in Blue which was done by Ferde Grofé, the orchestrator for Paul Whiteman's orchestra. The English composer William Walton commented that he adored Gershwin's orchestration of the concerto, he himself being a famous orchestrator. Gershwin scored his concerto for 2 flutes and a piccolo, 2 oboes and an English horn, 2 B flat clarinets and a B flat bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns in F, 3 B flat trumpets, 3 trombones and a tuba, 3 timpani - 32", 29" and 26" (one player), 3 percussionists (first player: bass drum, bells, xylophone; second player: snare drum periodically muffled and with regular and brush sticks, wood block, whip; third player: crash cymbals, suspended cymbal with sticks, triangle and gong), solo piano and strings. (Wikipedia)
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