If you are a fan of musical history and New York City during the Jazz Age, Rhapsody is a book worth checking out. It centers around two talented musicians – George Gershwin, whose fame remains today and the lesser known Katherine “Kay” Swift. In 1924, while married to wealthy banker Jimmy Warburg, Kay is mesmerized by the young composer George Gershwin, as he performs Rhapsody in Blue. She is forever changed. Once George and Kay meet, they begin an affair and inspire one another in their music. Warburg has his own dalliances which only brings Kay closer to Gershwin. And she becomes so wrapped up in him that her children are delegated to caretakers. She is often spoiled and selfish. Gershwin is also a flawed character. Through George, Kay becomes part of a dazzling group of musicians, actors and intellectuals bringing her to Harlem and the Cotton Club and to the parties of some of the era’s most influential artists.
This is a fascinating story of a very creative period in contemporary history where jazz and classical music are mixed, musical theater is at its zenith and world events in Europe are threatening it all. Kay Swift was the first woman to have composed the entire score of a musical play. Although he tragically died at age 38, George Gershwin’s music lives on. He remains one of the most significant and popular American composers of all time. They lived in their own world of creativity and Rhapsody gives us a well-researched entry into this world.
Recommended for those who have an interest in this period and its music.
Many thanks to Gallery Books | Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and author Mitchell James Kaplan for the opportunity to read Rhapsody in advance of it publication.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 2, 2021.
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