Noel Coward, the playwright, introduced Cole Porter to Richard Rodgers, already famous as a songwriter when they met. Cole Porter wasn’t famous yet, but he told Rodgers that he had discovered
the seret formula for writing hit songs.
He leaned over and said, “I’ll write Jewish tunes.”
Writes Rodgers, “…he eventually did exactly that. Just hum the melody that goes with ‘Only you beneath and moon and under the sun’ from ‘Night and Day,’ or any of ‘Begin the Beguine,’ or ‘Love
for Sale,’ or ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy,’ or ‘I Love Paris.’ These minor-key melodies are unmistakably eastern Mediterranean.”
It’s ironic, Rodgers went on, that despite the abundance of Jewish composers (Rodgers, Berlin, Kern, Gershwin), “the most enduring ‘Jewish’ music” was written by a Episcopalian millionaire born
on a farm in Peru, Indiana ““ Cole Porter.
(Rodgers’ autobiography, “Musical Stages” (1975), is well worth reading.)