Un altro MITO: Cole Porter

Cole Porter (Peru, 9 sjff_04_img1582.jpggiugno 1891Santa Monica, 15 ottobre 1964) è stato un compositore statunitense, il più sofisticato dei cinque grandi del musical americano (gli altri erano George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern e la coppia Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart), sia per il teatro che per il cinema.

Il suo stile musicale elegante, sottile ed arguto produsse capolavori della musica jazz. Tra le sue canzoni si ricordano le meravigliose canzoni “Night and Day“, “I Get a Kick Out of You“, “Begin the Beguine” e “I’ve Got You Under My Skin“.

Cole Porter, che aveva rivelato giovanissimo un eccezionale talento musicale, si era tuttavia iscritto alla facoltà di legge e aveva frequentato per qualche tempo le Università di Yale e di Harvard. Finalmente scelse la musica (aveva seguito a Parigi i corsi di Vincent d’Indy): il suo esordio a Broadway nel 1916, è con la commedia musicale See America First. Fu un grosso fiasco; ma Porter non si scoraggiò.
Decisivo per la sua carriera fu, in seguito, l’incontro con l’impresario Roy Goetz che cercava qualcuno in grado di comporre una musica di genere europeo nello stile del jazz americano per musicare il musical Paris.

Porter si mise al lavoro e nel 1928 l’operetta andava in scena a Broadway, ottenendo un successo strepitoso. Fu il primo di una lunga serie.
A Paris seguirono infatti Gay Divorce (1932), con la celebre melodia “Night and Day“, Anything Goes (1934), spumeggiante musical che lanciò canzoni come “Anything Goes” e “I Get a Kick Out of You“, Jubilee (1935), dove era inserita la canzone “Begin the Beguine”, divenuta in breve un successo mondiale, Du Barry Was a Lady (1939), Panama Hattie (1940), Kiss Me, Kate (1948), spumeggiante commedia musicale sulla falsariga dello shakespeariano La bisbetica domata, considerata il suo capolavoro, e Can-Can (1954), col famoso motivo “I Love Paris”.

Quasi tutte furono portate anche sullo schermo, in altrettanti film musicali.

Porter lavorò spesso anche a Londra per Charles B. Cochran, il più celebre impresario dell’epoca. Nel 1929 scrive Wake Up and Dream che vede fra i protagonisti Jessie Matthews e Sonnie Hale. Nel 1933 scrisse le canzoni per la rivista Nymph Errant che venne messa in scena a all’Adelphi Theatre. In seguito Porter considererà Nymph Errant la sua migliore opera.

Per il cinema, Porter lavorò pure alacremente, componendo le musiche di molti film. Tra questi si ricordano: Cerco il mio amore (The Gay Divorcee, 1934), con Fred Astaire e Ginger Rogers, Nata per danzare (Born to Dance, 1936), Rosalie (1937), Vogliamo la celebrità (Break the News, 1938), Il pirata (The Pirate, 1948), Alta società (High Society, 1956), Le girls (Les girls, 1957).

Opere principali

Musical, riviste e altri lavori per il teatro:

  • Cora (1911)
  • And the Villain Still Pursued Her (1912)
  • The Pot of Gold (1912)
  • The Kaleidoscope (1913)
  • Paranoia (1914)
  • See America First (1916)
  • Hitchy-Koo of 1919 (1919)
  • Hitchy-Koo of 1922 (1922)
  • Within the Quota (1923) balletto
  • Greenwich Village Follies of 1924 (1924)
  • Paris (1928)
  • La Revue des Ambassadeurs (1928)
  • Wake Up and Dream (1929)
  • Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929)
  • The New Yorkers (1930)
  • Star Dust (1931) mai prodotta
  • Gay Divorce (1932)
  • Nymph Errant (1933)
  • Ever Yours (1933) mai prodotta
  • Anything Goes (1934)
  • Jubilee (1935)
  • Red, Hot and Blue (1936)
  • Greek to You (1937) mai prodotta
  • Leave It to Me (1938)
  • You Never Know (1938)
  • Du Barry Was a Lady (1939)
  • Panama Hattie (1940)
  • Let’s Face It (1941)
  • Something for the Boys (1943)
  • Mexican Hayride (1944)
  • Seven Lively Arts (1944)
  • Around the World (1946)
  • Kiss Me, Kate (1948)
  • Out of This World (1950)
  • Can-Can (1953)
  • Silk Stockings (1954)

Composizioni originali per film:

  • Born to Dance (1936)
  • Break the News (1937)
  • Rosalie (1937)
  • Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
  • The Pirate (1948)
  • High Society (1956)
  • Les Girls (1957)
  • Something to Shout About (1943)
  • You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

Cole Albert Porter (June 9, 1891October 15, 1964) was an American composer and songwriter from Peru, Indiana. His works include the musical comedies Kiss Me, Kate (1948) (based on Shakespeare‘s The Taming of the Shrew), Fifty Million Frenchmen and Anything Goes, as well as songs like “Night and Day,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” He was noted for his sophisticated (sometimes ribald) lyrics, clever rhymes, and complex forms. He was one of the greatest contributors to the Great American Songbook.

Porter was born in Peru, Indiana, to a wealthy Episcopalian family; his maternal grandfather, James Omar “J.O.” Cole, was a coal and timber speculator who dominated his daughter’s family. His mother started Porter in musical training at an early age; he learned the violin at age six, the piano at eight, and he wrote his first operetta (with help from his mother) at 10. Porter’s mother, Kate, recognized and supported her son’s talents. She changed his legal birth year from 1891 to 1893 to make him appear more prodigious. Porter’s grandfather J.O. Cole wanted the boy to become a lawyer,[2] and with that career in mind, sent him to Worcester Academy in 1905 (where he became class valedictorian) and then Yale University beginning in 1909.

Porter was a member of Scroll and Key and Delta Kappa Epsilon, and sang as a member of the original line-up of the Whiffenpoofs. While at Yale, he wrote a number of student songs, including the football fight songs “Yale Bulldog” and “Bingo Eli Yale” (aka “Bingo, That’s The Lingo!”) that are still played at Yale to this day. Cole Porter wrote 300 songs while at Yale.

Porter spent a year at Harvard Law School in 1913, and then transferred into Arts and Sciences. An unverified story tells of a law school dean who, in frustration over Porter’s lack of performance in the classroom, suggested tongue-in-cheek that he “not waste his time” studying law, but instead focus on his music. Taking this suggestion to heart, Porter transferred to the School of Music.

In 1915, his first song on Broadway, “Esmeralda,” appeared in the revue Hands Up. The quick success was immediately followed by failure; his first Broadway production, in 1916, See America First (book by Lawrason Riggs), was a flop, closing after two weeks. He soon started to feel the crunch of rejection, as other revues for which he wrote were also flops. After the string of failures, Porter banished himself to Paris, selling songs and living off an allowance partly from his grandfather and partly from his mother.

in 1937, a riding accident crushed his legs and left him in chronic pain, largely crippled. (According to a biography by William McBrien, a probably apocryphal story from Porter himself has it that he composed the lyrics to part of “At Long Last Love” while lying in pain waiting to be rescued from the accident.) Doctors told Porter’s wife and mother that his right leg would have to be amputated and possibly the left one as well. Porter underwent more than 30 surgeries on his legs and was in constant pain for the rest of his life. During this period, the many operations led him to severe depression. He was one of the first people who experienced electric shock therapy.

Despite his pain, Porter continued to write successful shows. Leave It to Me! (1938) (introducing Mary Martin singing “My Heart Belongs to Daddy“), DuBarry Was a Lady (1939), Panama Hattie (1940), Let’s Face It! (1941), Something For The Boys (1943) and Mexican Hayride (1944) were all hits. These shows included songs such as “Get Out Of Town,” “Friendship,” “Make It Another Old-Fashioned Please” and “I Love You.” Nevertheless, Porter was turning out fewer hit songs and, to some critics, his music was less magical. After two flops, Seven Lively Arts (1944) (which featured the standard “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”) and Around The World (1946), many thought that his best period was over.

In 1948, Porter made a great comeback, writing what was by far his biggest hit show, Kiss Me, Kate. The production won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and Porter won for Best Composer and Lyricist. The score — generally conceded to be his best — includes “Another Op’nin’ Another Show,” “Wunderbar,” “So In Love,” “We Open In Venice,” “Tom, Dick or Harry,” “I’ve Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Always True to You (In My Fashion),” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” Porter was back on top.

Though his next show — Out Of This World (1950) — was not greatly successful, the show after that, Can-Can (1952), featuring “C’est Magnifique” and “It’s All Right With Me,” was a major hit. His last original Broadway production, Silk Stockings (1955), featuring “All Of You,” was also successful.

After his riding accident, Porter also continued to work in Hollywood, writing the scores for two Fred Astaire movies, Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), which featured “I Concentrate On You,” and You’ll Never Get Rich (1941). He later wrote the songs for the Gene Kelly/Judy Garland musical The Pirate (1948). The film lost money, though it does feature the delightful “Be A Clown” (intriguingly echoed in Donald O’Connor‘s performance of “Make ‘Em Laugh” in the 1952 musical film Singin’ in the Rain). High Society (1956), starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, had Porter’s last major hit, “True Love.” He wrote songs for Les Girls (1957) with Gene Kelly. His final score was for a CBS color special, Aladdin (1958); Columbia Records issued a stereophonic LP of songs from the program.

Eventually, his injuries caught up with him. After a series of ulcers and 34 operations on his right leg, it had to be amputated and replaced with an artificial limb in 1958. The operation followed the death of his beloved mother in 1952 and the end of his wife’s battle with emphysema in 1954. The combined hardships Porter endured proved to be too much. He never wrote another song after 1958 and spent the remaining years of his life in relative seclusion.

Cole Porter died of kidney failure at the age of 73 in Santa Monica, California and is interred in Mount Hope Cemetery in his native Peru, Indiana. Porter is buried between his wife and father.



Ecco una delle sue bellissime e indimenticabili canzoni “Night and day” qui cantata dall’eccezionale Ella Fitzgerald




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