The conductor was Robert Irving and the pianist on opening night Gordon Boelzner; the orchestration had only been completed for two songs, Strike Up the Band and I Got Rhythm. Clap Yo' Hands was performed to a recording made by George Gershwin; this sequence was, however, eliminated by Balanchine in 1976; new costumes were commissioned from Ben Benson by Balanchine before his death and have been used since 1983.
Balanchine and Gershwin's plans to collaborate were frustrated by the composer's untimely death in 1937. Thirty-three years later, Balanchine chose seventeen of Gershwin's from Broadway musical songs for this ballet; Mayor John V. Lindsay presented Balanchine with the Handel Medallion, New York City's highest cultural award, on opening night.
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