An American in Paris

An American in Paris is a 2015 hit Broadway musical based on a 1951 film. It is all inspired by George Gershwin’s 1928 jazzy symphonic poem about the streets of Paris.

An American in Paris on Broadway

An American in Paris Broadway Trailer
International ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon directed the Broadway musical which opened in April 2015. Wheeldon brought Ballet back to Broadway.

“An American in Paris” won Best Musical from the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle. It also won four Tony® Awards for Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, and Best Lighting Design of a Musical.

Director Christopher Wheeldon is an international ballet choreographer from England. He is associated with the Royal Ballet, one of the world’s great ballet companies.

“An American in Paris” closed on Broadway on October 9, 2016. The show is now touring the United States. It will open in London

Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre is a legendary 1913 Broadway theatre run by the Nederlander Organization in the Theater District.

Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway (at 47th Street)

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An American in Paris Film

An American in Paris Film Trailer
The 1950 film was produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Vincente Minelli, and starred Gene Kelly. The music is by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin.

The closing 17-minute ballet sequence is legendary. At the time it cost almost half a million dollars to produce. That is about $5 million today.

The film is considered to be one of the great MGM musicals. It won six Academy Awards in 1951 including Best Picture.

An American in Paris Music

The first recording by the Victor Symphony Orchestra in 1929
The music was commissioned by conductor Walter Damrosch. It was first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1928 with Damrosch conducting the New York Philharmonic.

“An American in Paris” was Gershwin’s follow-up to “Rhapsody in Blue” which captures the feeling of the streets of New York better than any other piece of music made before or since. That makes it especially interesting to hear George Gershwin’s sensations about the streets of Paris.

In the late 1920s Paris was still the cultural capital of the world and a gathering place for many now-famous writers, artists, musicians, dancers, and other creative people.

Gershwin was a self-taught composer. He met French composer Maurice Ravel in New York and asked to be his student. Ravel famously responded that it was better to be a first-rate Gershwin than a second-rate Ravel and recommended that he study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

Gershwin went to Paris and played a few minutes for Boulanger before she told him she had nothing to teach him. This was okay for his real motivation was to write the follow-up to “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Gershwin brought back some French taxi horns for the 1928 premier at Carnegie Hall. It’s recently been noted that the horns might be played out of tune from what Gershwin intended, but that’s another story.

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