Nowadays, the term rhapsody is closely linked to music, being the name of a work that presents only one movement and through which its structure flows freely, connecting to several episodes that mix a wide category of tones and moods.
A brief historical review
The association between rhapsody and music had its origins in the 18th century, one of the first examples being the work of Christian Schubart, entitled “Musicalische Rhapsodien”. Anyway, the first author who referred to his work only with the word rhapsody was Vaclav Tomasek, who composed more than 15 works, the first being in 1810.
It is also possible to find references to rhapsody among the works of some of the greatest composers of all times, as is the case with Brahms and his “Rhapsody to Alto” of 1869, created as a wedding gift for Clara Schumann’s daughter.
During the nineteenth century, rhapsody became fundamentally a collection of instrumental themes, first for piano and later in the second half of the century, in the form of large orchestral compositions of a marked epic and nationalist character, following a fashion imposed by Franz Liszt
At the beginning of the 20th century, several composers began to adapt their rhapsodies to the taste of the more popular classes, extending and making popular the use of this term to describe certain works. This is the case of “Rhapsody in Blue”, composed by George Gershwin, in 1924, combining classical influence with modern jazz tones. Thanks to this work, Gershwin became one of the most valued composers by the American public, as well as one of the most influential.
Today, many people associate the word rhapsody with the song “Bohemian Rhapsody”, released by the British group Queen, in 1975, which has become one of the most distinguished titles in rock history. This song is loaded with a strong operatic touch, but played with the usual instruments of rock music. It follows a structure divided into four parts, and in one part there is an excerpt sung in rock for seven minutes divided into three movements.