Tone Poem Tuesday

An American in Paris.

Is it a tone poem? You bet! Or rather, a “symphonic poem”, which is really much the same thing. Gershwin intended the work to reflect the energy and rhythms he experienced while traveling in 1920s Paris himself, and the work really does buzz with a certain cosmopolitan energy, at least until the pace slackens and we turn to the plaintive blues sung by the solo trumpet. It’s amazing to me that such an optimistic work could be inspired by a European city so soon after the cataclysm of World War I, but in the roaring twenties, I imagine Paris was a place of amazing energy. I tend to see this work as a companion to the Rhapsody in Blue, but an older, more mature one.

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