Georges Bizet was not Jewish, his father-in-law was. Bizet married the daughter of his composition professor, Jacques Halevi. To celebrate Chanukah, we learn about some other Jewish composers of classical music, including Salamone Rossi, Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Offenbach and Aaron Copland.
George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.
George Gershwin was an American composer who combined classical music and jazz to create his own unique style. Gershwin wrote music for Broadway shows, movies, the concert hall, and opera. One of the people he liked to work with was his brother Ira, who wrote wonderful lyrics (words) for George Gershwin's songs.
Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman — a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit. "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally written for solo piano, but quite a few people have made orchestral versions of the piece. The best-known one is by Maurice Ravel.
The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.