Porter, Cole (Albert)

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Porter, Cole (Albert)

Porter, Cole (Albert) , remarkable American composer; b. Peru, Ind., June 9, 1891; d. Santa Monica, Calif., Oct. 15, 1964. He was educated at Yale Univ. (B.A., 1913), then took academic courses at Harvard Law School, and later at the Harvard School of Music (1915–16); also received instruction in counterpoint, composition, orchestration, and harmony from d’Indy at the Paris Schola Cantorum (1919). While at Yale, he wrote football songs (Yale Bull Dog Song, Bingo Eli Yale, etc.) and also composed music for college functions. He first gained success as a composer for the stage with his Wake Up and Dream (London, March 27, 1929); his first production in N.Y. was See America First (March 28, 1916). There followed a cascade of musical comedies for which he wrote both the lyrics and the music, which placed him in the front rank of the American musical theater. His greatest success came with his musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate, after Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (N.Y., Dec. 30, 1948). A motion picture musical biography of Porter, starring Cary Grant, was produced by Warner Bros, in 1946 as Night and Day. Porter was a master of subtle expression without sentimentality, a kinetic dash without vulgarity, and a natural blend of word poetry with the finest of harmonious melodies. See The Cole Porter Song Book (N.Y., 1959) and R. Kimball, ed., The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter (N.Y., 1984).


DRAMATIC : Musicals (all Ist perf. in N.Y.unless otherwise given): Hands Up (July 22, 1915); Kitchy-koo of 1919 (revue; Oct. 6, 1919); Fifty Million Frenchmen (Nov. 27, 1929); Gay Divorcee (Nov. 29, 1932); Anything Goes (Nov. 21, 1934); Jubilee (Oct. 12, 1935); Red Hot and Blue (Oct. 29, 1936); Leave It to Me (Nov. 9, 1938); Du Barry Was a Lady (Dec. 6, 1939); Panama Hattie (Oct. 30, 1940); Let’s Face It (Oct. 29, 1941); Something for the Boys (Jan. 7, 1943); Mexican Hayride (Jan. 28, 1944); Kiss Me, Kate (Dec. 30, 1948); Out of This World (Dec. 21, 1950); Can-can (May 7, 1953); Silk Stockings (Feb. 24, 1955); etc. Film: Numerous, including Rosalie (1937), You’ll Never Get Rich (1941), Les Girls (1957), and Aladdin (1958). Songs : Of his many songs, at least half a dozen became great favorites: Begin the Beguine; It’s De-Lovely; Night and Day; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; Don’t Fence Me In; Wunderbar.


D. Ewen, The C. P. Story (N.Y., 1965); C. Porter and R. Hubler, The C. P. Story (Cleveland, 1965); G. Eelis, The Life That Late He Led (N.Y., 1967); R. Kimball and B. Gill, C. (N.Y., 1971); L. Siebert, C. P.: An Analysis of 5 Musical Comedies and a Thematic Index of the Complete Works (diss., City Univ. of N.Y., 1975); C. Schwartz, C. P. (N.Y., 1977); J. Morella and G. Mazzei, Genius and Lust: The Creativity and Sexuality of C. P. and Noel Coward (N.Y., 1995); W. McBrien, C. P.: A Biography (N.Y., 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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