Thursday, October 4, 2001

50 years ago: American in Paris soundtrack released

An American in Paris

George & Ira Gershwin (composers)

Composed: 1928

Soundtrack Released: October 4, 1951

Peak: 116 US

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: classical


  1. Overture
  2. Embraceable You
  3. By Strauss
  4. I Got Rhythm
  5. Tra-La-La
  6. Love is Here to Stay
  7. I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise
  8. Concerto in F, Third Movement
  9. Tra-La-La/ Love Is Here to Stay
  10. 'S Wonderful
  11. “Something to Tell You…”
  12. An American in Paris (Ballet)
  13. Finale

Singles/Hit Songs:

These were covers of songs from this musical which became hits:

  • “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” – Carl Fenton (#12, 1922)
  • “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” – Paul Whiteman (#1, 1923)
  • “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” – Ben Selvin (#8, 1923)
  • “’S Wonderful” – Frank Crumit (#5, 1928)
  • “’S Wonderful” – Ipana Troubadors (#12, 1928)
  • “Embraceable You” – Red Nichols (#2, 1929)
  • ”Embraceable You” – Jimmy Dorsey (#23, 1941)
  • ”An American in Paris” – Victor Symphony Orchestra featuring George Gershwin (#7, 1929)
  • ”An American in Paris (excerpt entitled ‘Blues’)” – Ralph Flanagan (#15, 1951)
  • ”Concerto in F, Parts 1 & 2” – Paul Whiteman (#10, 1929)
  • ”I Got Rhythm” – Red Nichols (#5, 1931)
  • ”I Got Rhythm” – Ethel Waters (#17, 1931)
  • ”I Got Rhythm” – Louis Armstrong (#17, 1932)
  • ”Love Is Here to Stay” – Larry Clinton (#15, 1938)
  • ”Love Is Here to Stay” – Red Norvo (#16, 1938)


4.334 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

The 1951 MGM musical An American in Paris was “inspired by the 1928 classical composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Oscar Levant, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner.” WK The film “won a well-deserved eight Academy Awards, including Best Score.” RM

“The plot is interspersed with showstopping dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to popular Gershwin tunes.” WK “The climax is an 18 minute ballet featuring Kelly and Caron and set to Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The ballet alone cost more than half a million dollars, a staggering sum in those days.” WK

“In its original form, the soundtrack album…ran 25 minutes on a 10" LP (also released on 78s and 45s).” WR That collection included “Kelly and/or co-star Georges Guetary warbling their way through the Gershwin favorites S’Wonderful, Love Is Here to Stay, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, and I Got Rhythm.” WR

“Later reissues by CBS/Sony and Rhino vastly expanded that running time with outtakes and other bonus tracks.” WR Notably, “after 50 years, the soundtrack went out of copyright in Europe, enabling Britain’s Prism Leisure label, which specializes in unlicensed reissues, to come up with its own version,” WR which followed the original track listing “plus a 13-minute abridgement” WR of the aforementioned climatic ballet that closes the film. Also added were “42 minutes of bonus tracks not actually related to An American in Paris…[making it] more of a compilation of Gershwin movie music from the 1930s to the 1950s than a simple soundtrack recording.” BE

However, it is the two-CD Turner/Rhino set that “represents the ultimate musical resource for the MGM film.” BE “In the early ‘90s, Turner Entertainment undertook a major restoration of the movie and, in doing so, in addition to original film elements, unearthed a treasure trove of original audio masters and studio session recordings, including alternate takes, unused songs, and rehearsals. Some of these (which included many tracks by Georges Guetary) turned up on the 1992 vintage laser disc box, and now they’re here, remastered yet again, along with elements of the film’s underscore, which contained dozens of George Gershwin tunes that were never actually ‘featured’ in the movie.” BE

“The result is a two-hour celebration of Gershwin’s music that may hold up better than any of the other MGM songbook musicals of this period, thoroughly annotated for the serious listener and pleasingly, entertainingly packaged for the casual purchaser, for whom the only drawback may be the relatively steep price of the double-disc set.” BE

All the bonus material makes it the only “issue of the original soundtrack…that contains all of Gershwin's work on An American in Paris. According to Rhino Records, previous soundtrack albums have included abbreviated versions of songs, some of which were ruined by sound effects and dialogue overriding the music.” RM

Notes: There are multiple versions of this soundtrack available. You can see many at Soundtrack Collector.

The track listing here is based on 1990 CBS Special Products release. Only charted versions of songs from that collection have been listed above.

However, it is the 2-CD, 47-track Rhino reissue that is the cream of the crop. For its full track listing, check out All Music Guide. That collection included many more well-known Gershwin tunes that had charted versions, including Someone to Watch Over Me, I’ve Got a Crush on You, Nice Work if You Can Get It, How Long Has This Been Going On?, But Not for Me, Biding My Time, Love Walked In, and Do, Do, Do.

Resources and Related Links:

Last updated 4/17/2022.