Whiteman, Paul, 1891–1967, American conductor, b. Denver. Whiteman played viola in the Denver Symphony Orchestra and in 1915 joined the San Francisco Symphony. During World War I he was an army band leader. In 1924 he inaugurated the period of “symphonic jazz” when he introduced Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in New York City. Whiteman encouraged the composition of concert jazz works by establishing the annual Whiteman Award. He was influential in the formation of large jazz ensembles. His books include Jazz (1926) and Records for the Millions (1948).
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Whiteman, Paul(1890–1967) bandleader; born in Denver, Colo. He was a violinist in the Denver Symphony Orchestra between 1912 and 1915 and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra until 1918. After brief service in the U.S. Navy during World War I, he became the leader of the orchestra at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in 1919. He moved this band to engagements in Atlantic City and New York in 1920, toured with it in Europe in 1923, made numerous recordings, and was credited with raising the standards for popular orchestras. He gained wide renown as the conductor of the 1924 premiere of Rhapsody in Blue, one of George Gershwin's experiments in "symphonic jazz" that Whiteman commissioned. He was promoted thereafter as the "king of jazz," though he is best known in jazz circles as the employer of several influential musicians, including Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, and the Dorsey brothers. He led his orchestra throughout the mid-1940s, then worked as the music director of ABC in New York until his retirement.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.