Concert Report: An American in Paris

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I attended a performance the Utah Symphony preformed “An American in Paris” on September 28, 2018. I was seated in the second tier on the right side of the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. The concert hall has amazing acoustics and I was able to see the entire orchestra and hear the entire performance. Looking down on the performers it was easy to see the grouping of each type of instrument.

It was wonderful to see the composer Thierry Fischer rapidly conduct the orchestra with ease and energy. The first piece that I will be reviewing and analyzing is Gershwin’s American In Paris. I will also be reporting on two other pieces that were performed that same evening, Ravel’s Concerto in G major for Piano and orchestra and Schubert’s Symphony No.9 in C major, D. 944 “The Great”. I will discuss a little about each composer and then comment on each performance individually.

Gershwin, An American in Paris. He composed this piece in 1928 on commission from the New York Philharmonic. This performance really encompasses the feel of Paris at this time and the experience that an American would experience. The bustling vehicles the sounds on the streets of Paris. The piece itself is rhapsodic and buoyant and combines French textures and can-can beats as well as Gershwin’s typical melodic and harmonic spontaneity. It is obviously a piece that reflects an American’s perspective walking the streets of Paris hearing the car horns passing petit cafes and boulangeries.

The form was represented as ABA which was constructed in roughly five separate sections. The first section contains an A “walking” themes. It is valid to assume that Gershwin was influenced by both French and American composers. The A section features duple meter and other rhythms. The B section’ s really exposes a contrast to the upbeat sounds of the A section. The B section showcases more the overwhelming response of the, “American Blues and spasms of homesickness.”

The next sections return to the theme of A before finally returning to a jazzy, blues type theme in the final grand finale of the piece. The use of the horns, snare drum and percussion really help the audience feel the beat and speed of each section. This was indeed my favorite piece of the evening. I have visited Paris, France last year and even though the sounds have changed a lot since 1928 I pictured myself on the Seine river while listening to this exquisite performance.

Maurice Ravel composed Piano Concerto in G Major roughly around 1930. This piece has many hints of American Musical culture that were present currently, mostly Jazz. This was due the extensive tour he took of the US during this time. It was easy to hear the heavy influences of Jazz throughout the piece. Ravel stated, “The most captivating part of jazz is its rich and diverting rhythm.

Jazz is a very rich and vital source of inspiration for modern composers and I am astonished that, so few Americans are influenced by it.” The first movement, Allegramente was written in the standard sonata-allegro form with a specific focus on the exposition which was fitting for composers during this time. The following movement is the Adagio assai which is presented as a contrast to the first movement. This form was written in the ternary form. I could notice a little more disorder in this movement that the first containing dissonant harmonies.

The third and final movement, Presto worked quickly with faster melodies and interjections from other groups of instruments interrupting the flow of the Piano before concluding. The presto movement also contained textures that were iridescent, featuring a polyrhythmic pulse. I enjoyed this piece it was more formal and did not contain the same spontaneous beats of Gershwin, but the piano was able to shine and emphasize the jazz influence.

Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 “The Great” by Franz Schubert was the final piece preformed. Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797 and was heavily influenced by the great composers of that period, specifically Beethoven. The influence of the Enlightenment has to be taken into account when analyzing the style and influence for the four movements of this piece. Schumann was quoted saying that this piece was a, “heavenly length” running roughly 50 minutes on average.

Throughout the entire piece there is a heavier use of the brasses and horns and less string instruments. The first theme is exposed on the trombone followed by a quiet transition to the second subject leading to the recapitulation. The symphonies final two movements a Scherzo leading to an Allegro vivace trio with its lively rhythms and energy. The final movement really exposed the heavy Beethoven influence that Schubert had, containing a real, “Ode to Joy” melody. The finale sums up the entirety of this heavenly piece bringing the huge symphonic statement to a close.


Cite this paper

Concert Report: An American in Paris. (2021, Jun 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/concert-report-an-american-in-paris/



Did Gershwin orchestrate American in Paris?
The work is scored for the standard orchestra of the time plus celesta, saxophones, and automobile horns. Gershwin composed American in Paris on commission from the French government.
Was An American in Paris a hit?
Yes, Was An American in Paris was a hit. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture.
What style of music is An American in Paris?
The style of music in An American in Paris is primarily jazz with some classical influence. The music was composed by George Gershwin.
Why did Gershwin write An American in Paris?
The tone of Graduation by Maya Angelou is one of both pride and nostalgia.
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