Cole Porter: The Definitive Biography

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9780002154956: Cole Porter: The Definitive Biography

The definitive biography of Cole Porter – the urbane American composer of musical comedies and of over 1000 songs – which reveals the darker side of the star whose life and work epitomizes the romance of Café Society.

Cole Porter – composer of Night and Day, Easy to Love and I’ve Got You Under My Skin – is familiar to three generations. His tunes conjure up romance, glamour and cultivated sensuality.

This biography charts Porter’s life, beginning on a fruit farm in Indiana and moving on to Yale, where his social charm and musical gifts earned him leadership of the Glee Club. From Yale he moved to Harvard, where he roomed with Dean Acheson, and on to the School of Music and the Paris Conservatoire to study music theory, history, harmony and counterpoint.

In 1919, Porter married the rich and beautiful Linda Thomas. The pair spent a decade roaming glamorous, bohemian Europe and Porter, sponsored by Irving Berlin among others, experienced the beginnings of success with his songs before making his name in the 1930s with hit shows like Anything Goes. A riding accident left him in constant pain, but he still continued to write shows like Kiss Me Kate and Silk Stockings until his death in 1964.

William McBrien contrasts Porter’s refined, elegant music with the stoicism, pain and passion of a life which mixed devotion to his wife with numerous homosexual love affairs.

Talking to friends and colleagues (for example, Bob Hope, Diana Vreeland, Stephen Sondheim) who have never spoken about him before, McBrien paints a picture of Porter’s sophisticated and unstable world in Europe and America.

Researching Porter’s lyrics and correspondence, McBrien makes new links between his work and life and reveals how Porter’s particular brand of hedonism – nonchalance, lovely pals, glamorous venues, splendid tailoring, good hotels, and love – was his protection against encroaching darkness.

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Review:

"The definitive biography of the bon vivant who was the supreme master of sophisticated popular song." --The New York Times Book Review
"A fine biography. . . . It brings to our understanding . . . the ways that the contradictions and compulsions of [Porter's] life explain the emotional force and timelessness [of] the music." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Thorough . . . fascinating. . . . Loaded with juicy gossip. [It] succeeds in evoking Porter's white-tie-and-orchids set [and] his active, if closeted, gay life in Manhattan and Hollywood." --People
"Read this book. . . . You will spend time with, and get to know, one of the great creative figures of the twentieth century."--Betty Comden, The New York Observer"

From the Back Cover:

COLE PORTER composed some of this century’s most evocative music, including 'Night and Day', 'Easy to Love' and 'I've Got You Under My Skin'. His musical scores, notably 'Kiss Me Kate', 'High Society', 'Silk Stockings' and 'Can-Can', shaped three decades of movie-making.

This definitive biography evokes the frenetic glamour of his career on Broadway and in Hollywood. Cole Porter knew and worked with everyone who was anyone: the casts of his wildly successful musicals included (among many others) Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. His music was the up-beat accompaniment to the gloomier events of the Depression, the Second World War and the bleak years that followed. However, Porter's own suffering was never hinted at publicly or in his work.

Interweaving his life and music, McBrien contrasts Porter's raffish, elegant scores with the pain and passion of his life. He reveals the private Porter; the lost privileged man with an irrepressible talent to amuse, who had long-term relationships and frequent dalliances with many men – even though he maintained a loving marriage to the woman he truly adored. His biography contains frank interviews with friends and colleagues who until now have never spoken openly about Cole Porter. Now at last we can fully understand the man, the music and its magic – and see exactly how his doubts, desires and infatuations insinuated their way into the heart of so many brilliant and captivating lyrics.

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William McBrien
Published by HarperCollins Publishers (1998)
ISBN 10: 0002154951 ISBN 13: 9780002154956
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2154951

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