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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, September 16

Shostakovich on Broadway?

Synopsis

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

Additional Information

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