Much like Sting’s 1987 hit “An Englishmen in New York,” George Gershwin’s free form symphonic tone poem An American Paris finds its inspiration in the idea of being a fish out of water and the wide-eyed excitement of seeing new sights and hearing new sounds. Gershwin traveled to Paris in 1926 to study with Maurice Ravel. Ravel refused to teach him after their first meeting, saying that George would be better as a first-rate Gershwin rather than a second-rate Ravel. Gershwin began his sketches that year for what would become An American in Paris with a shorter piece entitled “Very Parisienne.” When returning to the U.S., Gershwin brought home Parisian car horns in specific pitches which figured prominently in that work and of course later in the final version of An American in Paris.
From the Central Coast to San Diego, from Santa Monica to Palm Springs, there are fascinating people creating incredible art and performances. KUSC will be covering those experiences on Arts Alive. And when you’re in the mood for a little more, like a longer version of an interview, more Arts Alive coverage is available online at kusc.org/artsalive.