The New York Times once postulated that if Paul Whiteman were considered the 'King of Jazz', then certainly it should be accepted that Ferde Grofé was the 'Prime Minister of Jazz'. The Times columnist would have us to understand that despite Whiteman's gifts for showmanship and larger than life personality, it was often the arrangements of the unaccredited Grofé and others which gave Whiteman his musical successes time and time again. We'll give 'Pops' his due and deserved credit for recognizing rare talent when he saw it.
Ferde Grofé earned another deserved nickname as the 'Father of Modern Arranging' for his unique approach to instrumentation and scoring. Long remembered for his work in bringing George Gershwin's two-piano score of Rhapsody in Blue to the full orchestral instrumentation familiar to so many, Grofé was also a gifted composer and had been applying this same technique exhibited in the Rhapsody to his own works for many years.
Paul Whiteman once explained Grofé's approach in a 1926 book titled "Jazz".
"Mr. Grofé considers the Orchestra a sort of quartet, ranging from soprano to bass. In the separate instrumental groups, he also divides the parts from high to low."
This site serves as a focus on Grofé's work in the Band medium. Ferde Grofé had a long relationship with the American Bandmaster's Association and worked with them on several commissions including the "Ode to an American Soldier". Many of Grofé's orchestral works were also later arranged for Band either by Mr. Grofé himself or others. Some, including recent new arrangements, are presented elsewhere within this site.
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. Tam. All rights reserved