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Cole Porter: Sophisticate of American Song

Evening Program

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2117
$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member
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Cole Porter


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.


Dilletante…hedonist…elitist…snob. Cole Porter was called many things over the course of his creative but troubled life. No matter how he was perceived, his reputation as a musical genius has never been questioned.

That life can be divided into two distinct parts: before Porter’s debilitating riding accident in 1937 and after. Unlike contemporaries Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin, Porter did not seek Broadway success during his early years, living what was very much a life of privilege.  Eventually he did manage to balance a personal and professional life as he entered his 30s, epitomized by the 1934 blockbuster Anything Goes.

After his injury, he produced some of his finest shows, including Kiss Me Kate, Can- Can, and Silk Stockings.  His indomitable work ethic and his insistence on enjoying life clearly enlivened his music: He wove the emotions and mores of his generation into lyrics whose words were provocative, erotic, exotic, and always much more than clever in songs like “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” and “I Love Paris”.

American music specialist Robert Wyatt travels through Porter’s life on Broadway and in Hollywood, 40 years that produced 33 stage works and the music for 23 films. Rare archival film clips and recordings of original cast members, including Ethel Merman, Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby are featured, along with Porter himself singing and playing “You’re the Top”—which he was.


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  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.