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Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich Composer

Tahiti Trot (arr. of Youman's 'Tea for Two'), Op.16

Performances: 12
Tracks: 12
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Musicology:
  • Tahiti Trot (arr. of Youman's 'Tea for Two'), Op.16
    Year: 1928
    Genre: Other Orchestral
    Pr. Instrument: Orchestra
Shostakovich's Tahiti-Trot may be the most odd and unlikely piece he ever composed. Vincent Youmans' hit song "Tea for Two" from his musical No, No, Nanette was known as the Tahiti-Trot in the U.S.S.R. Although the Party officially despised decadent capitalist jazz, in the late '20s, before Stalin had consolidated his power, such things were permitted and, as Tahiti-Trot, "Tea for Two" became a tremendous popular hit. And as such, it was treated with disdain by "high-brow" composers like the 22-year-old Dmitri Shostakovich. Yet, even the young and haughty Shostakovich could be taunted into orchestrating the work.

As the conductor Nikolai Malko tells the story in his Reminiscences, "During a tour of the Ukraine (in 1928), Mitya heard a record of the Tahiti-Trot. I said to him, 'Well, Mitenka, if you really have as much genius as they say, I give you one hour to go into the next room, put this little piece down on paper and orchestrate it for me to play." Apparently, it only took Shostakovich forty-five minutes to accomplish the task and win the challenge. Malko premiered Shostakovich's charmingly delightful arrangement the next year with the Leningrad Philharmonic. With its delicate celesta, its insouciant stopped trumpets, its blowzy trombone glissandos, and its sweetly swinging strings, Shostakovich's orchestration sounds far more affectionate than disdainful, and giving the work an official opus number of 16 grants the work a standing in his œuvre which Shostakovich did not grant to his slightly later and not altogether dissimilar Jazz Suites.

This was not quite the end of the Tahiti-Trot: Shostakovich later re-used it in the third act of his ballet The Age of Gold (1929 - 1930).

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