Catalog

Songs

An American in Paris [S]

Opened at the Palace Theatre, New York on April 12, 2015. 623 performances. Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Book by Craig Lucas. Directed & choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Produced by Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan and Roy Furman. Cast includes Robert Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Veanne Cox, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz, and Max von Essen. Inspired by the much-loved, Oscar-winning 1951 movie, the spectacular stage musical AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is the romantic story of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl, and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of World War II. While the shadow of war is an underlying motif in the stage version, the heart of the show is the exuberant Gershwin score, which incorporates George’s AN AMERICAN IN PARIS tone poem, as the movie did, as well as both movie and non-movie songs and excerpts from George’s CONCERTO IN F and SECOND RHAPSODY. Given its origins in a movie that celebrated dance and a director who came to prominence as a choreographer, the new adaptation is, not surprisingly, a paean to movement as an expressive element, from the opening sequence depicting the liberation of Paris to scenes that suddenly erupt in dance, to the modernist title ballet near the end.

A Damsel in Distress

Released in November 1937 by RKO. Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Screenplay by P. G. Wodehouse, Ernest Pagano, and S. K. Lauren, adapted from a Wodehouse story. Directed by George Stevens. Produced by Pandro S. Berman. Cast included Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Reginald Gardiner, Ray Noble, Constance Collier, and Montague Love. The Gershwins' second project after relocating to California in 1936 was Fred Astaire's first film musical without Ginger Rogers. Based on a story by P. G. Wodehouse, Astaire stars as a famous American composer working in London who falls in love with a young woman from an aristocratic English family (Joan Fontaine). George Burns and Gracie Allen add fine comic support as Astaire's manager and his secretary. "Stiff Upper Lip," which the trio performs in a funhouse, is one of the most complex and delightful musical sequences ever filmed.

An American in Paris

Premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York, on December 13, 1928.  New York Philharmonic, Walter Damrosch (conductor). After the mad rush of working on ROSALIE for Florenz Ziegfeld, George and Ira were determined to take some time off, so in March 1928, the Gershwins traveled to Europe. During their three months abroad, George Gershwin hoped to complete an orchestral work he had pondered since returning from a 1926 visit to Paris, when he had composed a fragment of music labeled "Very Parisienne" and entitled AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Inspired by the sounds of taxi horns along the Paris boulevards, Gershwin and his friend Mabel Schirmer went shopping for those horns in the automobile shops along the Avenue de la Grande Armee and he returned home to incorporate them into this "rhapsodic ballet," which had its debut at Carnegie Hall later that year. (Incidentally, Ira was content to spend much of the European trip "[seeing] the sights and [drinking] beer," though he did keep a lengthy diary of the Gershwins' activities.) In 1951, Gene Kelly turned AN AMERICAN IN PARIS into the climactic ballet of his Academy Award winning film of the same name.