Notwithstanding the stunning successes of his Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and the Piano Concerto in F (1925) the 30 year old George Gershwin was still best-known as a Broadway songwriter. He was determined to achieve more in the classical field and, whilst travelling Europe in 1928, it was in the French capital that he started work on his long-planned concert work.
Gershwin wrote, “My purpose here, is to portray the impressions of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere”. The end result, the tone poem An American in Paris certainly evokes very effectively the sights, sounds, and mood of 1920s Paris.
The first performance was given in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Although it was not altogether liked by the critics at the time one has to ask how flawed it can be as it remains a firm 21st century concert hall favourite!
Here Gershwin’s wonderful music is presented in an arrangement for wind quintet and piano that is sure to be an winner with audiences!
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