- George Gershwin – An American in Paris, (performed in 1959 by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.), great compositions/performances
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes 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, saxophones, 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.”
International award winning a cappella octet, Voces8 performs ‘Maria’ from West Side Story. The arrangement was written especially for Voces8 by Composer in Residence, Jim Clements and was recorded live in Spain in November 2007.
Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990) was probably best known to the public as the longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic, for conducting concerts by many of the world’s leading orchestras, and for writing the music for West Side Story, a musical based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.