MUSIC: Offenbach: clip from Gaîté parisienne , performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 411 708-2, track 1] [under the following]
Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and for the next hour we're going to explore three orchestral pieces inspired by the city of Paris, France. The first will be by an American and the second by an Englishman. The third will be by that quintessential Parisien composer, Jacques Offenbach, who was actually born in Cologne, Germany. But the music was arranged for a ballet called Gaîté parisienne by Manuel Rosenthal. He, at least, was actually born in Paris.
MUSIC: fades out
Since I'm an American about to leave for Paris myself, I thought I would start this hour with George Gershwin's famous piece, An American in Paris.
Gershwin went to Paris in 1928, some four years after the tremendous success of the premiere of his Rhapsody in Blue in New York City. He wanted to obtain more thorough training in composition, and asked Maurice Ravel if he would give him some lessons.
I don't know if it's true or not, but Ravel supposedly responded with a couple of questions of his own.
"Mr. Gershwin, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
Gershwin replied: "What would you like to know?"
Then Ravel asked: "How much money do you earn a year?"
Gershwin was surprised by the question but responded honestly: "About a hundred thousand dollars."
"In that case," Ravel responded, "I think I should take lessons from you!"
Whether or not that conversation ever took place, you must admit it makes a good story. It is known for a fact that Gershwin did ask Ravel for lessons and that Ravel did turn him down, saying that he could teach Gershwin nothing. I've also seen Ravel quoted as saying something like this:
"Mr. Gershwin, I can teach you to be a second-rate Ravel, but I'd rather you continue to be a first-rate Gershwin."
Here, then, are 18 minutes of first-rate Gershwin as performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn on a Philips compact disc.
MUSIC: Gershwin: An American in Paris performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn [Philips 412 611-2, tracks 2 and 3] [17:58]
George Gershwin's An American in Paris performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn.
You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are exploring orchestral music inspired by the city of Paris.
Our first piece was by an American. The next is not nearly so well known. In fact, I think it is a real compact discovery. It is by an English composer named Haydn Wood, and is called the Paris Suite. Wood lived from 1882 until 1959.
Although Wood's first name, Haydn, is pronounced in the English way, he was in fact named after Franz Joseph Haydn, and both High-din and Hay-din are spelled H-a-y-d-n. Shortly before Haydn's birth, his father went to see a performance of -- appropriately enough -- Haydn's The Creation. He returned vowing that if the baby were to be a boy, he would name him Haydn, and that is exactly what happened.
Haydn Wood's Paris Suite consists of three movements. The first is a waltz called "Apache Life." Now you might think it a strange title for something taking place in Paris, France. But in French slag from the turn of the 20th century, the name of the American Indian tribe was used to describe the gangsters of the Paris underworld. The imagined life-style of the Paris Apaches was turned into an Apache dance by choreographers, in which impassioned embrace alternates with knock-about pseudo-violence.
The second movement is called "Meditation: In the Tuileries Garden." The final movement is a march called "Montmartre." This piece reflects this area of music-halls and cabaret and a march far removed from the parade ground, expressing all the gaiety of theaterland.
The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava is conducted by Ernest Tomlinson on a Marco Polo compact disc.
MUSIC: Haydn Wood: Paris Suite performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava conducted by Ernest Tomlinson [Marco Polo 8.223605, tracks 4, 5, and 6] [13:31]
Haydn Wood's Paris Suite. The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava was conducted by Ernest Tomlinson.
You are listening to pieces inspired by the city of Paris on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.
[two seconds of silence for optional cut-away for one-minute break not included in the 57:55 total timing of the program]
During this hour we have listened to American and English compositions about Paris. Now let's hear from a real Parisienne -- German born Jacques Offenbach. He came to Paris to study music from Cologne when he was still a boy. He later became what Rossini called "the Mozart of the Champs-Élysées."
Offenbach was born in 1819. He died in Paris at the age of 61 in 1880. He wrote 102 stage works for -- and about -- Paris. But the ballet called Gaîté parisienne wasn't one of them. It was put together by French conductor and composer Manuel Rosenthal, using music he richly orchestrated from seven Offenbach stage works: La vie parisienne, Orphée aux enfers, La belle Hélène, Le voyage dans la lune, La Périchole, Vert-Vert and Les contes d'Hoffmann.
We'll hear excerpts from Gaîté parisienne now with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit on a London compact disc.
MUSIC: Offenbach/Rosenthal: excerpts from Gaîté parisienne performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 411 708-2, various tracks]
Excerpts from the London compact disc recording of Gaîté parisienne -- the music of Jacques Offenbach as arranged by Manuel Rosenthal. The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal was conducted by Charles Dutoit.
MUSIC: "Barcarolle" from Offenbach/Rosenthal: Gaîté parisienne performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 411 708-2] [under the following]
That concludes this hour of orchestral music inspired by Paris. I hope you enjoyed the music. My name is Fred Flaxman. The program is called Compact Discoveries. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. You can contact me through the Compact Discoveries website: www.compactdiscoveries.com.
Compact Discoveries is a registered trademark and production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. This program is made possible in part by the members of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.
MUSIC: up and fade out at 57:55
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Program Ends at 57:55
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