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10/05/2009

We're sure you'll agree with us that it was right to devote much of the show to Fred Astaire. We had the good reason that it was the 110th anniversary of his birth but we shouldn't ever need an excuse, for Frederick Austerlitz has to be one of the most important 20th Century artists in the history of the popular song.

Consider the extraordinary list of songs he introduced, songs that remain firmly in the repertoire to this day. It's hardly surprising the respect and gratitude all those composers regularly showed him; composers like Irving Berlin: 'I never would have written Top Hat, White Tie and Tails or Cheek To Cheek or Isn't This A lovely Day if I didn't have Fred Astaire.... to write for.'

It helped that Fred's straightforward approach meant that the songs would become known as the writers intended - which further endeared him to Berlin, The Gershwins, Porter and Kern. A third factor in their appreciation of The Great Fred was that - as we've shown a little this week - he was one of them; a bona fide songwriter in his own right. If he hadn't been one of the world's finest dancers - an occupation which, given his famous perfectionism, took up a great deal of time - he might well have been up there with George & Ira, Cole, Jerry and Irving.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 10 May 2009 21:00