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Work of the Week – George Gershwin/Mark Clague: An American in Paris (Uncut Version)

Back to the Gershwin origin! On the occasion of George Gershwin's 125th birthday, the Ludwigsburg Festival Orchestra will perform the German premiere of An American in Paris in Ludwigsburg on July 22nd 2023. Ryan McAdams will be the conductor. 

In 1928, George Gershwin travelled to Paris for the third time in his life. He began composing An American in Paris on this trip and completed some parts while still being in the Paris hotel. Gershwin completed the rest in New York after the trip in the same year. In the piece, Gershwin wanted to combine his impressions of the metropolis with his homesickness for New York. Therefore, Gershwin described an A-B-A division of the work. The A section reflects the hustle and bustle of Paris and captures the mood of the city. For this, Gershwin specially purchased four Parisian taxi horns and incorporated them into the piece. In the B part, Gershwin deals with his homesickness for New York with a blues sound. In the last part, the two previous motifs blend into a grand finale. The rousing rhythms and timbres not only tell a story, but also show the composer's creativity and testing of limits. 

An Original Gershwin: An American in Paris (Uncut Version) by George Gershwin/Mark Clague

The aim of this critical edition of An American in Paris is to restore Gershwin's original sound. In Frank Campbell-Watson's 1943 revision, some of the notes composed by Gershwin - from the taxi horns, for example - were adapted to an average orchestration and thus made generally accessible. The critical edition by Mark Clague includes the composer's original notes, with the help of which he revised and developed the piece. As a result, the edition focuses on the original sound with the original instrumentation as composed by Gershwin. 

I want to portray the impressions of an American visitor to Paris as he roams the city, taking in the street noise and thus absorbing the French atmosphere. After perhaps having a few drinks in a café, homesickness gives him a stomach ache. These blues soon subside, however, and our American friend remains an attentive observer of Parisian life. In the end, the fascination of the experiences on the boulevards triumphs. (George Gershwin)

An American in Paris will also be performed in Kanagawa, Japan on 26 July 2023.



George Gershwin: Composer Profile

Mark Clague: Composer Profile

An American in Paris: Work Details and Online Score 

Website Orchester der Ludwigsburger Festspiele


Foto: dpa - Bildarchiv