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This article is about the Gershwin composition. For the 1951 musical starring Gene Kelly, see An American in Paris (film).

An American in Paris is a symphonic composition by American composer George Gershwin, composed in 1928. Inspired by time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it is in the form of an extended tone poem evoking the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.

Gershwin composed the piece on commission from the New York Philharmonic. He also did the orchestration. (He did not orchestrate his musicals.) Gershwin scored An American in Paris for the standard instruments of the symphony orchestra plus celesta, saxophone, and automobile horns. Gershwin brought back some Parisian taxi horns for the New York premiere of the composition which took place on December 13, 1928 in Carnegie Hall with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Philharmonic.

Gershwin collaborated on the original program notes with the critic and composer Deems Taylor, noting that: "My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere." When the tone poem moves into the blues, "our American friend ... has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness." But, "nostalgia is not a fatal disease." The American visitor "once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life" and "the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant."

Instrumentation

An American in Paris is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling on piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet in B flat, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B flat, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, low and high tom-toms, xylophone, glockenspiel, celesta, 4 taxi horns, alto saxophone/soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone/soprano saxophone/alto saxophone, baritone saxophone/soprano saxophone/alto saxophone, and strings.

The revised edition by F Campbell-Watson calls for three saxophones, alto, tenor and baritone. In this arrangement the soprano and alto doublings have been rewritten to avoid changing instruments.

Recordings

An American in Paris has been frequently recorded over the years. The very first recording was made for RCA Victor in 1929 with Nathaniel Shilkret conducting the Victor Symphony Orchestra, drawn from members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Gershwin was on hand to "supervise" the recording; however, Shilkret was reported to be in charge and eventually asked the composer to leave the recording studio. Then, a little later, Shilkret discovered there was no one to play the brief celesta solo during the slow section, so he hastily asked Gershwin if he might play the solo; Gershwin said he could and so he briefly participated in the actual recording. The radio broadcast of the September 8, 1937 Hollywood Bowl George Gershwin Memorial Concert, in which An American in Paris, also conducted by Shilkret, was second on the program, was recorded and was released in 1998 in a two-CD set. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra recorded the work for RCA Victor, including one of the first stereo recordings of the music. In 1945, Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra recorded the music in Carnegie Hall, one of the few commercial recordings Toscanini made of music by an American composer. The Seattle Symphony also recorded a version in the 1980's of Gershwin's original score, before he committed to numerous edits resulting in the score as we hear it today.

In 1951, MGM released a musical comedy, An American in Paris, featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Winner of numerous awards, including the 1951 Best Picture Oscar, the film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, featured many tunes of Gershwin, and concluded with an extensive, elaborate dance sequence built around Gershwin's symphonic poem (arranged for the film by Johnny Green).

A part of the symphonic composition is also featured in As Good as It Gets, released in 1997.

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

An American in Paris is a 1951 musical film about a struggling American painter in Paris, who is discovered by an influential heiress with an interest in more than his art.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Written by Alan Jay Lerner.
Adventures Of An Ex-GI In The City Of Romance. taglines

Contents

Jerry Mulligan

  • This is Paris. And I'm an American who lives here. My name Jerry Mulligan. And I'm an ex-GI. In 1945, when the Army told me to find my own job, I stayed on and I'll tell you why. I'm a painter. All my life, that's all I've ever wanted to do. And for a painter, the Mecca of the world for study, for inspiration, and for living is here on this star called Paris. Just look at it. No wonder so many artists have come here and called it home. Brother, if you can't paint in Paris, you'd better give up and marry the boss's daughter. Back home everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here, but it sounds better in French.

Adam Cook

  • It's not a pretty face, I grant you, but underneath its flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character. I like Paris. It's a place where you don't run into old friends, although that's never been one of my problems.

Henri Baurel

  • Let's just say I'm old enough to know what to do with my young feelings.

Dialogue

Adam: [looking at a photo of Henri's 19-year-old girlfriend] Shocking degenerate.
Henri: She was a little girl then. We only became in love after she left.
Adam: She's a little young for you, isn't she kid?
Henri: She has great vitality, joi de vivre, she loves to go out and have fun and dance. She would dance all night...She's an enchanting girl, Adam. Not really beautiful. And yet, she has great beauty.

Jerry: That's, uh, quite a dress you almost have on. What holds it up?
Milo: Modesty.

Jerry: I see it's a formal brawl after all.
Milo: What makes you think that?
Jerry: Well, the more formal the party is, the less you have to wear.
Milo: Oh, no. You're quite wrong. It's most informal.
Jerry: Where is everybody?
Milo: Here.
Jerry: Downstairs?
Milo: No. Here in this room.
Jerry: What about that extra girl?
Milo: Ha, ha. That's me.
Jerry: Ohhh! You mean the party's just you and me.
Milo: That's right.
Jerry: Oh I see. Why that's kind of a little joke, isn't it?
Milo: In a way.
Jerry: You must be out of your mink-lined head. I know I need dough but I don't need it this badly. If you're hard up for companionship, there are guys in town that do this kind of thing for a living. Call one of them.
Milo: I'm simply interested in your work and I want to get to know you better. Now is that such a crime?...I want to help you. I think you have a great deal of talent. Now it doesn't hurt to have somebody rooting for you, does it?

Jerry: What about you? Aren't you sick of The Life and Times of Mulligan?
Lise: I'd rather listen to you. I don't like to talk about myself.
Jerry: Oh, you're going to have to get over that.
Lise: Why?
Jerry: Well, uh, with a binding like you've got, people are going to want to know what's in the book.
Lise: What does that mean?
Jerry: Well, uh, primarily it means you're a very pretty girl.
Lise: I am?
Jerry: Yes, you are.
Lise: How do you know?
Jerry: I, uh, heard it on the radio.
Lise: Making fun of me.
Jerry: Doesn't everybody tell you that?
Lise: I haven't been out with many people. And always friends.
Jerry: Honey, believe me. I'm no enemy...Lise, I don't know whether you're a girl of mystery or just a still water that doesn't run deep, but there's one thing I can tell you. I'd been around sooner, you'd know by now that you're very pretty and I'm not making fun with you.

Henri: [to Jerry] So be happy! You only find the right woman once.
Adam: That many times?

Lise: Oh Jerry. It's so dreadful standing next to you like this, and not having your arms around me.
Jerry: You'll always be standing next to me Lise.
Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget.
Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. I know. I came to Paris to study and to paint because Utrillo did, and Lautrec did, and Roualt did. I loved what they created, and I thought something would happen to me, too. Well, it happened all right. Now what have I got left? Paris. Maybe that's enough for some but it isn't for me anymore because the more beautiful everything is, the more it will hurt without you.
Lise: Jerry. Don't let me leave you this way.

Taglines

  • Adventures Of An Ex-GI In The City Of Romance.
  • Arts Students' Biggest Ball
  • Most Daring Ever Filmed.
  • Screen's Most Spectacular Musical!

Cast

External links

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