Composers Datebook®

Shostakovich on Broadway?

Composers Datebook for September 16, 2020


On today’s date in 1925, Vincent Youman’s musical No, No Nanette opened on Broadway after a trial run in Detroit and additional preview stagings in Chicago and London.

Tunes from No, No Nanette even reached the Soviet Union, although occasionally something was lost in the translation. For example, in Russia, the musical’s popular foxtrot, Tea for Two, was called the Tahiti Trot.

Late in 1927, on a dare from the conductor Nikolai Malko, a 21-year old Soviet composer named Dimtri Shostakovich orchestrated this tune in just one hour. Malko was so pleased that he performed the orchestration the following year, and Shostakovich, who had a soft spot for musicals and operettas, incorporated his Tahiti Trot into his new ballet, The Age of Gold.

Just three years later, however, Soviet authorities decided that the foxtrot was just one more vestige of Western decadence, and Shostakovich quickly moved to disassociate himself from anything remotely connected to Broadway. His name even appeared on an open letter suggesting, “Only after thorough and widespread educational work on the class essence of light music will we succeed in liquidating it from Soviet society.”

In other words, “Nyet, Nyet!” to “Nanette!”

Music Played in Today's Program

Vincent Youmans (1898 - 1946) No, No Nanette Overture Broadway cast album Columbia 30563

On This Day


  • 1887 - French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger, in Paris; Her pupils included a number of famous American composers from Aaron Copland to Philip Glass;

  • 1844 - French flutist and composer Paul Taffanel, in Bordeaux;


  • 1925 - Broadway premiere of Vincent Youmans' musical, "No, No Nanette," which had opened in Detroit on April 21, 1924, and had successful productions in Chicago and London before reaching New York City;

  • 1965 - Duke Ellington: First Sacred Concert, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco;

  • 1966 - Barber: opera, "Anthony and Cleopatra" at the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center;

  • 1995 - Harrison Birtwistle: "Panic" for alto sax, drummer, and orchestra, at the "Last Night" of the Centenary Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London, with the BBC Symphony conducted by Andrew Davis, with John Harle (sax) and Oauk Clarvis (dummer);

  • 1999 - Libby Larsen: "Solo Symphony," by the Colorado Symphony, Marin Alsop conducting;


  • 1920 - Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his last records (selections by Meyerbeer, Lully, Bartlett, and Rossini) for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey; He would make his last operatic appearance at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Christmas Eve in 1920 (an evening performance of Halevy's "La Juive"), and die the following summer in Naples;

  • 1977 - Opera diva Maria Callas dies of a heart attack, age 53, in Paris.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

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