The Mystery of Roger Wolfe Kahn’s Symphony and Other Compositions

Had Roger Wolfe Kahn not gone against his parent’s wishes, it’s more than likely he would have launched his music career at the age of sixteen as a member of a “supergroup”—the first-ever such group to be termed as such. Roger’s father, the wealthy financier, opera buff, and all-around entrepreneur, was formulating plans to launch such a group in 1924 that would comprise the “best” jazz and classical musicians available, including his son Roger. It was a novel concept. However, as history recalls, Roger did go against his parent’s wishes and instead formed his own jazz band, details of which seeped into the press at the beginning of February 1924. One of the direct consequences of Roger acting so maverick and against his parent’s wishes was to have his scheduled public debut performance on February 12, 1924, mysteriously withdrawn. Roger was to have performed at Paul Whiteman’s hugely anticipated concert, An Experiment in Modern Music, at New York’s Aeolian Hall—a venture Otto Kahn was financing. George Gershwin premiered Rhapsody in Blue at the concert; a composition Paul Whiteman had specially commissioned from Gershwin. To imply Roger was a rebellious teenager is an understatement. He could almost have coined the term. Unperturbed, though rattled by his parent’s mean-spirited retribution, Roger went ahead with his plans to steer his own musical path, t
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Iain Cameron Williams was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, of Scottish and Welsh ancestry. His mother was born in New York and his father was born in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India. Iain Cameron Williams is the writer of The KAHNS of Fifth Avenue (2022), The Empirical Observations of Algernon (2019), and Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall (2003). The KAHNS of Fifth Avenue by Iain Cameron Williams (ISBN-13: ‎978-1916146587) is available to purchase via Amazon and all good bookstores or via the website

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