…Shostakovich’s popular encore piece “Tahiti Trot, Op. 16” was written on a bet?
The song in the above video is “Tea for Two”, a musical number from the 1925 musical “No, No, Nanette”. The abrupt key changes and majority of the melody being dotted rhythms are atypical in major theater numbers and yet the song was a success.
In 1927, Shostakovich and conductor Nikolai Malko listened to the song once on a record and Malko bet Shostakovich 100 rubles (the Soviet Union had so many currency changes in this era I can’t guess how much in US dollars this would be equivalent to) that he couldn’t re-orchestrate the entire song from memory in under an hour. Being the badass he was, Shostakovich not only succeeded, but did it in 45 minutes. It was first premiered a year later and was instantly popular. He later incorporated it into his ballet “The Age of Gold” as a entr’acte (music played between acts) at a suggestion from conductor Aleksandr Gauk. You can hear the finished product below. DAMN impressive.