Ferde Grofé was born into a talented family. His father was a baritone and actor while his mother was a cellist and music teaching. Following numerous non-musical jobs, he was 17 when he wrote his first commissioned work. He played violin for the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and jazz piano with Paul Whiteman and Orchestra, for which he also served as arranger for many years. His music is usually considered light classical, and often shows a strong jazz influence. Along with Grand Canyon Suite, his most known works include Mississippi Suite and the orchestration of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for Paul Whiteman.