Cesar Franck / No, No, Nanette

Rick Rogers Published: January 17, 2013

On this day in classical music: Cesar Franck’s “Piano Quintet in F Minor” was given its premiere by the Marsick Quartet in Paris in 1880. Camille Saint-Saëns was the pianist. The Belgian-born Franck studied in Paris and spent most of his adult life there. An accomplished organist, Franck held posts at several Parisian churches, most notably at Sainte-Clotilde where he remained from 1858 until his death in 1890. Franck’s musical output, while not particularly large, contains several notable works, including several works for organ, the piano quintet, a few symphonic poems and the “Symphony in D Minor.” Listen to pianist Eduard Zilberkant and the Kairos String Quartet perform the finale of Franck’s “Piano Quintet in F Minor.”

Cesar Franck
Cesar Franck

On this day in the musical theatre: A revival of “No, No, Nanette” opened on Broadway in 1971. First staged in 1925, “No, No, Nanette” featured a book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel, lyrics by Irving Caesar and Harbach, and music by Vincent Youmans. The musical was based on Mandel’s 1919 play “My Lady Friends.” A lighthearted romp, “No, No, Nanette” focused on three couples staying at a cottage in Atlantic City. The plot may have been inconsequential but the score produced two notable hits: “I Want to Be Happy” and “Tea for Two.” The revival brought Ruby Keeler back to prominence and she got to impress a new generation of fans with her tap dancing. Her costars Helen Gallagher and Patsy Kelly won Tony Awards, as did Donald Saddler’s choreography and Raoul Pene du Bois’ costume design. Watch Keeler and company perform the infectious “I Want to Be Happy” at the 1971 Tony Awards broadcast.

No, No, Nanette - Broadway Revival Cast
No, No, Nanette - Broadway Revival Cast

Musical musings: Nostalgia may prove to be the overriding emotion of the seventies, with remembrance of things past far more comfortable than the realization of things present. For everyone who wished the world were 50 years younger — and particularly, I suspect, for those who remember it when it was 50 years younger — the revival of the 1925 musical “No, No, Nanette” should provide a delightful, carefree evening. This is far closer to a twenties musical than anything New York has seen since the twenties, but it is seen through a contemporary sensibility. Time-travelers of all ages will revel in the simplicity of Vincent Youman’s music. It is music to hum, and particularly music to dance to. Its rhythms suggest their own dancing feet, and the melodies are light, cheerful and exuberant, so that even the blues are not too blue. There are a number of standards and near-standards in the score, and they emerge fresh but with reverberations of the past. The choreography by Donald Saddler was creatively the most important new element in the show. This choreography dazzled — I had forgotten tap-dancing could be so much fun. – Clive Barnes in The New York Times

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