Day 6

Playing Gershwin's "An American in Paris" right after seventy years

An upcoming critical edition of the work of Ira and George Gershwin argues that orchestras and musicians have possibly been playing George Gershwin's classic "An American in Paris" incorrectly.
George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) is famous for his compositions 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'An American in Paris'. (Getty Images)
Listen8:10

According to musicologist Mark Clague, the notes traditionally played by the taxi horns in George Gershwin's An American in Paris are not what the American composer intended -- and that musicians have been possibly playing the piece of music incorrectly since 1945.

To determine the exact notation for his work always requires detailed research as well as musically sensitive interpretation - Mark Clague editor-in-chief of the Gershwin Critical Edition
George Gershwin,1898-1937. (Getty Images)

Brent and Mark Clague listen to both versions and discuss the significance of this dissonant discovery. 

In the original handwritten score Gershwin labelled the taxi horns with four circled letters, "A", "B", "C" and "D" - which were interpreted as the note each horn should play. But a new critical edition argues that the letters were not specifying notes, but which horns should play.


Standard Version - Tuning A, B, C, D 

1929 Version - Tuning A Flat, B Flat, Higher D and Lower A