Symphonic poem in one movement
Written in 1928
Composed on commission from conductor and composer, Walter Damrosch.
The purpose of the piece is to "portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere." The composition also includes a section of blues music that represents the American's spasm of homesickness.
Gershwin auditioned to become one of Ravel's composition students, but after his audition Ravel said he couldn't teach Gershwin and referred him to composer and conductor, Nadia Boulanger. Gershwin's studies with Boulanger were cut short but the trip resulted in An American in Paris.
INSTRUMENTATION: 3 flutes (3rd also piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (in B-flat), 2 bassoons, 3 saxophones (alto [in E-flat]/soprano [in B-flat], tenor [in B-flat]/soprano [in B-flat]/alto [in E-flat], baritone [in E-flat]/soprano [in B-flat]/alto [in E-flat]), 4 horns (in F), 3 trumpets (in B-flat), 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, triangle, wood block, cymbals, low and high tom toms, xylophone, glockenspiel, 4 taxi horns (in A, B, C and D), celesta, strings