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Cole Porter

Begin the beguine was one of the hit numbers in the popular 1935 Broadway musical Jubilee, which had a run of 169 performances. Porter wrote both the music and lyrics, and Moss Hart the play's story. In 1938 bandleader Artie Shaw fashioned an instrumental version of the song, which also achieved great success. Begin the beguine was reused in two films, Broadway Melody of 1940, starring Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, and Night and Day (1946), with Cary Grant and Alexis Smith.

It is easy to see why this song transformed so well into an instrumental -- its colorful, effervescent theme is quite the perfect vehicle for a dance adaptation. Indeed, the beguine in the song's title is a ballroom dance, having rhythmic aspects similar to those of the rumba. The main theme is carefree and somewhat exotic in its Latin flavors and lively rhythms. The music exudes sunshine and a sense of fun and festivity, and perfectly matches Porter's lyrics, which talk of the beguine, of its "tropical splendor" and of love "under the stars." Begin the beguine is still fairly popular today, but generally heard in instrumental versions for band or orchestra.