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Donald Macleod discusses Cole Porter's famous parties in Venice, where he mixed with Picasso and Diaghilev.

He was one of the most famous Broadway composers of his time, and many of his songs still live on in our consciousness today, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Cole Porter.

Cole Porter and his wife Linda were spending much of their time in Venice, where they rented a majestic palace on the Grand Canal for $4,000 a week. They organised legendary parties, including shipping over a Jazz band from America to play on a barge in the lagoon. Porter was determined to pursue his career as a composer, but producers were wary of him. His rich and lavish lifestyle gave the impression that Porter was a dabbler, not to be trusted. He did contribute a number of songs for the American show, Greenwich Village Follies, including Two Little Babes in the Wood, and I'm In Love Again. By the time the show went on tour, all his songs had been dropped.

By the late 1920s, Porter was achieving international success. Irving Berlin commissioned Porter to compose music for a revue in Berlin's Music Box Theatre in New York. The show was set in Paris, with a cast of bohemian characters, and Berlin realised that Porter knew this territory better than he did. The outcome was Fifty Million Frenchmen, which included the song You Do Something To Me.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Cole Porter

    We Open in Venice, from Kiss Me Kate

    Singer: Josephine Barstow. Singer: Thomas Hampson. Singer: George Dvorsky. Singer: Kim Criswell. Choir: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: London Sinfonietta. Conductor: John McGlinn.
    • EMI:CDS7540332.
    • EMI.
    • 6.
  • Cole Porter

    Two Little Babes in the Wood, from Greenwich Village Follies

    Singer: Thomas Hampson. Choir: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: John McGinn.
    • EMI: CDC7542032.
    • EMI.
    • 4.
  • Cole Porter

    I'm in love again from Greenwich village follies

    Singer: Billy Hillpot. Singer: Scrappy Lambert. Singer: Ben Bernie. Orchestra: Roosevelt Hotel Orchestra.
    • ASV : ERA AJA-5044.
    • ASV.
    • 3.
  • Cole Porter

    Hot-House Rose

    Singer: Lee Wiley. Orchestra: Bunny Berigan Orchestra.
    • Sony Music : A-33714.
    • Sony Music.
    • 22.
  • Cole Porter

    Weren't we Fools

    Performer: Unknown Pianist. Singer: Julie Wilson.
    • Painted Smiles Records: PSCD-122.
    • Painted Smiles Records.
    • 22.
  • Cole Porter

    Let's misbehave

    Singer: Phil Saxe. Orchestra: Irving Aaronson and His Commanders.
    • Cedar: CDHD181.
    • Cedar.
    • 2.
  • Cole Porter

    Which

    Performer: William Bolcom. Singer: Joan Morris.
    • OMEGA : OCD-3002.
  • Cole Porter

    Let's Do It, from Paris

    Singer: Leslie Hutchinson.
    • CONIFER : CDHD-213.
    • CONIFER.
    • 1.
  • Cole Porter

    You Do Something to Me from Fifty Million Frenchmen

    Singer: Susan Powell. Singer: Howard McGillin. Orchestra: Orchestra New England. Conductor: Evans Haile.
    • NEW WORLD : 80417-2.
    • NEW WORLD.
    • 2.
  • Cole Porter

    Overture, from Fifty Million Frenchmen

    Orchestra: Orchestra New England. Conductor: Evans Haile.
    • NEW WORLD : 80417-2.
    • NEW WORLD.
    • 1.
  • Cole Porter

    You Don't Know Paree, from Fifty Million Frenchmen

    Singer: Howard McGillin. Orchestra: Orchestra New England. Conductor: Evans Haile.
    • NEW WORLD : 80417-2.
    • NEW WORLD.
    • 13.
  • Cole Porter

    Paree, What Did You Do To Me?, from Fifty Million Frenchmen

    Singer: Susan Powell. Singer: Howard McGillin. Orchestra: Orchestra New England. Conductor: Evans Haile.
    • NEW WORLD : 80417-2.
    • NEW WORLD.
    • 13.
  • Cole Porter

    Overture, from Gay Divorce

    Conductor: John McGlinn. Orchestra: London Sinfonietta.
    • EMI: CDC7543002.
    • EMI.
    • 22.
  • Cole Porter

    Night and Day, from Gay Divorce

    Orchestra: London Sinfonietta. Conductor: John McGlinn.
    • EMI: CDC7543002.
    • EMI.
    • 20.

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