George Gershwin, the son of immigrants, grew up in a tenement in the Yiddish Theatre district of lower Manhattan in early 20th century New York. Introduced to music at age 10, he studied piano and composition. When Gershwin quit school at 15 years old, his first job was as a “song plugger” playing sheet music to potential purchasers in music stores. Soon he was composing popular songs and musicals with his brother Ira, who wrote the lyrics. Orchestral music followed.
Gershwin's most popular melodies became widely known through player-piano rolls, Broadway musicals, film scores, jazz standards, and orchestral performances. Among his best-known orchestral works are Rhapsody in Blue (1924), An American in Paris (1928), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935).
An American in Paris is a jazz-influenced symphonic poem inspired by Gershwin’s first visit to Paris. It paints the picture of an American tourist experiencing the City of Lights in the 1920s, melding jazz and classical in a musical postcard.
Gershwin scored the piece for the standard instruments of the symphony orchestra plus celesta, saxophones, and automobile horns. He brought back some Parisian taxi horns for the 1928 New York premiere of the composition in Carnegie Hall.
The film inspired by the music, An American in Paris, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1951. The film, in turn, has inspired a musical recently produced in Paris. The musical is currently playing on Broadway to great acclaim.
Programme Note by Dave Whiting ©
Powered by SiteCMTM— web content management made easy by ideaLEVER Solutions.