Variations on "I Got Rhythm"

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Variations on "I Got Rhythm" is a set of variations for orchestra and piano solo composed by George Gershwin in 1933-34. The piece is dedicated "To my brother Ira".

Gershwin composed the new piece for his forthcoming concert tour with the Leo Reisman Orchestra, as an alternative to his Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F. He took the melody of his hit song I Got Rhythm from musical Girl Crazy as the base of the piece. Most of the piece was composed during a three-week vacation in Palm Springs, and it was completed on 6 January 1934 after he returned to New York. It received its première in Boston at the Symphony on 14 January 1934 by the orchestra, conducted by Charles Previn.

The piece starts off with the repetitions of four rising innocent clarinets notes on pentatonic scale, which opens the melody of the original song. The orchestra joins in after a brief piano answer to the clarinet. The piano and the orchestra state the main themes of the song which then is followed by a series of variations in the styles of waltz, atonal/serialist, oriental, jazz, a variation where the treble and bass sections are inverted, and then a grand restatement and finale.


  • Greenberg, Rodney (1998). Gerge Gershwin, pp. 152–155. Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-3504-8.