Grofé, Ferde

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1892-03-27
Death 1972-04-03
Americans
English, German

Biographical notes:

American composer Ferde Grofe (1892-1972) is best known for his Grand Canyon Suite and for his orchestration of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

From the description of Ferde Grofé collection, ca. 1890-ca. 1960 (bulk ca. 1920-ca. 1940). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71128295

Composed 1933. First performance New York, Carnegie Hall, 25 January 1933, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, Paul Whiteman conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Tabloid : No. 1 : Run of the news / Ferde Grofe. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 52155205

Commissioned 1935 by the American Rolling Mills Co. Originally composed for symphonic band, 1935; transcribed same year. First performance New York, 1 February 1936, in an NBC broadcast, Frank Black conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Symphony in steel / by Ferde Grofé. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 52155204

Composed 1931. First performance Chicago, 22 November 1931, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, Paul Whiteman conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Grand Canyon suite / Ferde Grofé. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 52155197

Commissioned by Catherine LIttlefield for her Littlefield Ballet Company which was originally based in Philadelphia. Inspired by certain aspects of contemporary American life, the ballet's setting recalled the night-club life of "Manhattan's El Morocco," one of the swankier clubs in New York City. Grofé conducted the premiere on 13 Nov. 1938 at Chicago's Opera House with the Littlefield Ballet which had relocated from Philadelphia to Chicago. First performance in concert form, 3 May, 1942 by the Pennsylvania W.P.A. Symphony Orchestra at Irvine Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania, Guglielmo Sabatini, conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Café society / Ferde Grofé. [1938]. (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 187099781

American composer, pianist, and arranger.

From the description of Autograph postal card signed, dated : [Santa Monica, 1 Feb. 1968], to James J. Fuld, 1968 Feb. 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270932551

Ferde Grofe was born into a musical family. He began playing the piano when he was five years of age and was arranging music by the time he was nine. At age fourteen he ran away from home because his family tried to discourage his musical talents. He supported himself working odd jobs during the day and playing piano or other instruments in cafes and honky-tonks at night. By the age of twenty he was playing in the viola section of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.

In 1920 he met Paul Whitman and began a long career with Whitman's jazz orchestra, arranging and writing the music Whitman played. He also worked with George Gershwin in 1924 on Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," taking the musical score from Gershwin and arranging it for a symphony orchestra.

In the 1930s Grofe was the orchestra conductor for a number of radio programs including the Burns and Allen Show. He also began his own composing career writing the "Grand Canyon Suite" among several other compositions. He received an Academy Award for his musical score of the "Minstrel Man."

From the description of Ferde Grofe papers, 1930-1969. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 57141362

Biographical Note

Ferdinand Rudolph Grofé was born in New York on March 27, 1892 . He studied piano, violin, and harmony with his mother, and viola with his grandfather. Grofé began his professional career with the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, where he was violist for ten years, from 1909-1919 . In 1919, Grofé joined the Paul Whiteman Band as pianist and arranger. Along with Whiteman, he became one of the leading figures of symphonic jazz. Grofé's arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for its premiere by the Whiteman Band in 1924 established his reputation. He performed two concerts of his own compositions and arrangements at Carnegie Hall, and organized his own "New World Ensemble" for the 1939 New York World's Fair. His most popular work is his Grand Canyon Suite (1931). Grofé was nominated for an Academy Award in 1944 for scoring the film Minstrel Man . Ferde Grofé died on April 3, 1972, in Santa Monica, Calif.

From the guide to the Ferde Grofé Collection, 1890-1960, (bulk 1920-1940), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Ferde Grofé was born into a musical family. He began playing the piano when he was five years of age and was arranging music by the time he was nine. At age fourteen he ran away from home because his family tried to discourage his musical talents. He supported himself working odd jobs during the day and playing piano or other instruments in cafés and honky-tonks at night. By the age of twenty he was playing in the viola section of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and remained with them for ten years. In 1920 he met Paul Whitman and began a long career with Whitman’s jazz orchestra, arranging and writing the music Whitman played. He also worked with George Gershwin in 1924 on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” taking the musical score from Gershwin and arranging it for a symphony orchestra.

In the 1930s Grofé was the orchestra conductor for a number of radio programs including the Ford Motor Company Radio Show, Burns and Allen, and CBS Radio Show. He also began his own composing career writing the “Grand Canyon,” “Mississippi,” “Tabloid,” “Hollywood,” and “Aviation” Suites, “Three Shades of Blue,” “Metropolis,” “Free Air,” and several others. He was on the faculty of the Juilliard Summer School from 1939-1943 and participated in national educational projects for music in America. He also composed musical scores for several Hollywood productions. He received an Academy Award for the musical score of “Minstrel Man.”

From the guide to the Ferde Grofé Papers, 1930-1969, (University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.)

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Subjects:

  • Orchestral music, Arranged
  • Ballet--Scores and parts
  • Music--Manuscripts--United States
  • Ballets--Excerpts, Arranged
  • Suites (Band), Arranged--Scores
  • Suites (Piano), Arranged
  • Jazz
  • Motion picture music
  • Motion picture industry--Songs and music
  • Suites--Excerpts--Scores and parts
  • Symphonies--Scores and parts
  • Radio music
  • Orchestral music--Scores and parts
  • Orchestral music
  • Orchestral music, Arranged--Scores
  • Suites (Orchestra)--Scores and parts
  • Composers--United States
  • Arrangers (Musicians)--United States

Occupations:

  • Composers
  • Collector
  • Arrangers
  • Conductors (Music)

Places:

  • Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) (as recorded)
  • California--Los Angeles (as recorded)
  • Gunnison River Valley (Colo.) (as recorded)