Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: Why We Shouldn’t Bring Our Dogs to Work: A Cautionary Tale

As those who read via blog and/or listen via podcast to Music History Monday know, as often as not I’ll mention two, three, or even more date related items before getting to the “main attraction” of a particular post. However, every now and then, one of those preliminary items will take on a life of its own and demand – rather curtly I would add – to be the main attraction itself.

That’s precisely what has happened today. The original title for today’s Music History Monday was An American in Paris. Here is that post’s lead:

“We mark the premiere on December 13, 1928 – 93 years ago today – of George Gershwin’s orchestral work An American in Paris. The premiere took place in Carnegie Hall, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Philharmonic.”

We will briefly deal with the creation and premiere of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris before moving on to the canine-related item that has stolen today’s show. Be assured, however, that we will return to An American in Paris and what was to be the meat-and-potatoes of today’s post on Thursday, December 23.

George Gershwin (1898-1937) on the cover of Time magazine, July 20, 1925
George Gershwin (1898-1937) on the cover of Time magazine, July 20, 1925

A Brooklynite in Paris

In the spring of 1926, George and Ira Gershwin’s show Lady Be Good was scheduled to be performed in London following a brief tryout in Liverpool.  George journeyed forth to Ye Merrye Olde Englande for the performances. Between the Liverpool and London openings (respectively on March 29 and April 13, 1926), he took a brief side trip to Paris, where he stayed with friends – Robert and Mabel Schirmer – from about April 5th to the 10th.  It was his first visit to that awesome ville and he was properly bowled over by the city.  As a parting gift to this hosts, the Schirmers, Gershwin jotted down a bouncing, crackling melody he called “Very Parisienne”. 

On returning home to New York, New York (“the city so big they had to name it twice!”), Gershwin began thinking about composing an orchestral work to commemorate his visit to Paris. That work – eventually to be entitled An American in Paris – was to feature Gershwin’s “Very Parisienne” melody as its opening theme.

But, we get ahead of ourselves…

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