Kurt Weill is a German type-setter born with Dessau, on March 2nd, 1900 and died with New York, on April 3rd, 1950.
Its music, considered by the Nazi S as “degenerated”, will be worth to him to see its burned partitions. Its origins Jewish S and its sympathies to the Communisme make that it is constrained to leave Germany in 1933 with Lotte Lenya which it had married in 1927 and which it will réépousera in 1937 after a divorce in 1933. It remains with Paris where it composes the Seven deadly sins ( Die sieben Todsünden ) on a text of Brecht for the Théâtre of the Fields-Élysées and finishes its Second symphony before going to the the United States in 1935.
Kurt Weill is resulting from an Jewish family. His/her father, Albert Weill, were originating in Kippenheim, an important rural Jewish community of the Pays of Bade. At the time of the birth of Kurt, he is cantor of the Jewish community of Dessau and then was it with Eichstetten amndt Kaiserstuhl. Kurt was his third wire. His/her brothers Nathan and Hans had been born in 1898 and 1899, his/her Ruth sister in 1901.
At the 5 years age, Kurt begins the Piano and it composes as of its youth. He attends the higher college ( Oberrealschule ) of Dessau and shines there by his musical capacities. Before the 18 years age, it accompanies with the piano a local professional singer at the time of evenings of song, to which it can make hear its first airs.
In 1918, it begins studies of music at the University ( Hochschule ) of Berlin. It follows the teaching of Ferruccio Busoni, which will be determining for its future work, especially for its esthetics of the Opéra. In 1920, it is engaged as leader to the theater of the town of Lüdenscheid. Starting from 1925, it works with its first projects of operas with important writers like Georg Kaiser and Yvan Goll. In 1927, it starts to collaborate with Bertolt Brecht, which leads to the Opera of quat' under in 1928.
Very early, its work is influenced by the music of contemporary dance, for example in the opera Royal Palace . The style ( Songstil ) of Weill, which develops as from 1927, is strongly marked by this music, particularly by the Jazz-Stil of Paul Whiteman. This stylistics is more prégnantes in the Opera of quat' under and in Happy End . In parallel, it makes also use of a neo-classic musical expression, precisely néobaroque, for example in the opening of the Opera of quat' under , in the scenes of hurricane of Rise and fall of the town of Mahagony , and in the whole of the opera Die Bürgschaft .
The reception made with its music (particularly on behalf of the other type-setters) is mitigated. It acquires a great popularity with the Opera of quat' under . Among his/her colleagues, Arnold Schönberg and Anton Webern reject it completely. Others like Alban Berg, Theodor Adorno and Alexander Zemlinsky show however a great interest for its work. Berg attends a representation of Mahagony and Zemlinsky directs the Quodlibet (of 1923) and Mahagony (1930).
Reception of the work of Weill in France (1925-1933)
Weill is recognized as of 1925 as a “hope” of the German music thanks to several concerts which take place during the year.
The representation of a French adaptation of the Opera of quat' under in 1930 is not a great success, but the French version of film of Georg Wilhelm Pabst in 1931 ensures Weill a great popularity, supported by the diffusion of two discs of songs of film with Albert Préjean (Mackie), Jacques Henley (Tiger Brown) and Margo Lion (Jenny).
In December 1932 takes place with the Salle Gaveau a concert in the presence of Weill. This concert, which takes place at the instigation of the Viscount Charles de Noailles and of his Marie-Laure wife and whom comprise Mahagonny-Songspiel and Der Jasager is a great success, as well in the society men mediums, as among the artists and intellectuals; the press is well laid out and with the beginning of the year 1933, Weill is evoked in three important articles.
It thus appears normal that it chooses for place of exile a country where he has, moreover, some friends: Georges-Henri River, director of the Museum of Ethnography of Trocadero, Henri Monnet (brother of Jean Monnet), Darius Milhaud and its Madeleine wife.
After the takeover by the Nazis (January 30th 1933), Weill flees in France in March. Its works are victims of a Autodafé in June 1933 and it is not any more question of playing them in Germany. Its contract with Universal, which went back to 1924, is revised with the fall and Weill obtains the cancellation in October from it; he concludes an new agreement the October 31st with the publisher Heugel (Paris), represented by Paul Bertrand; this contract, valid of November 1933 to December 1938, will be terminated by mutual agreement in June 1936.
The atmosphere of the year 1933 in Paris is much less favorable than that of 1932. The representations of works of Weill, news or older ( Mahagonny-Songspiel in June 1933) are less better accommodated; the concert which takes place the November 26th 1933 in the Pleyel room is disturbed by the type-setter Florent Schmitt, who after the song the Ballade of César (of the Lac of money ), exclaims “Vive Hitler! ”, with the approval of part of the public; it is finally expelled, but the “apolitical” press takes its party against Weill; in the French Action , Lucien Rebatet breaks out against the “Yiddish virus”.
After having lived in hotels in Paris, then in Noailles, Kurt Weill occupies a residence with Louveciennes (Yvelines, then in Seine-et-Oise); it is remainder very often travels from there, either for professional reasons (with London, to develop the representations of Der Kuhhandel , with Rome), or for visits (once in Suisse, once in Czechoslovakia) with its family, which, a little later, will emigrate in Palestine (1936).
During this period, it composes, on ordering of the Théâtre of the Fields-Élysées, the music of a ballet with songs, the Seven deadly sins , represented in June 1933; music of Gallant Marie , only represented three weeks with the Theater of Paris in December 1934; that of Der Kuhhandel , represented in London in June 1935 under the title My Kingdom for has Cow ; it completes its Second symphony , with the assistance of a patron, the Princesse of Polignac (Winnaretta Singer, widow of the prince Edmond de Polignac). It also takes part in the setting in radiophonic wave (November 1933) of Fantômas with Robert Desnos and Paul Deharme, of which it appreciates a didactic design of Article.
The American period (1935 - 1950)
In September 1935, it leaves for the the United States. A major work of the first times of the exile is Der Weg of Verheissung/The Eternal Road , a biblical part, which presents the history of the Jewish people. It is about a mixture of Théâtre, Liturgie and opera. Kurt Weill is then success with Broadway, especially with Lady in the Dark (466 representations in New York) and One Touch off Come (567 representations).
Starting from 1941, it takes part in the effort of war while entering (October 1941) the organization Fight For Freedom ; it achieves a civil service of air observer in 1942 (what Bertolt Brecht evokes with a little irony in its Journal ). It carries out several works related to the situation, in particular We Will Never Die , represented with New York and Los Angeles (: 25000 spectators the March 9th 1943) and broadcast. In 1943, it obtains the American nationality, which it asked since 1937.
The most remarkable works of the last creative period of Weill are the “American opera” Street Scene , which presents an interesting synthesis between European opera (one cannot not perceive the influences of Puccini) and the American Musical comedy, as well as the “musical tragedy” Lost in the Stars , on the topic of the South-African Apartheid with, on the musical level, a certain African influence.
On the man
To consider Kurt Weill exclusively as a German type-setter would be right neither for its work nor for its person. When, in 1947, the magazine Life presents it like a “German type-setter”, Weill protests in an open letter: “Although I would have been born in Germany, I do not regard myself by as a “German type-setter”. It is clear that the Nazis did not regard me as such and I left their country in 1933… I am an American citizen, and during the twelve last years in this country, I worked exclusively for the American scene… I would be grateful to you to agree to inform your readers of this reality. ”
Its name is, at least in space Germanophone, inseparably related to that of Bertolt Brecht and often remains in the shade of the poet. This way of seeing is however unjust for the type-setter. Already of alive sound, Weill was brought to protect itself from this tendency. In an interview of 1934, he answers a Danish journalist, who questions it on his common works with Brecht: “I have the impression that you believe that Brecht composed my music… Brecht is a genius, but in our common works, I am the only person in charge of the music. ”
That it is in Germany, France or America, its musical expression full with contrasts always astonished by a diversity associating very naturally avant-gardism and assimilation by the tradition. Few people know that standards of jazz, like Speak low and September Song , or the French tango Youkali results from the feather of Weill. Interpreters like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, or Nick Undermines, Elvis Costello and the Doors, showed that the value of the compositions of Weill can be recognized today like formerly. Thus can one understand that the American black poet Langston Hughes, which wrote the texts of Street Scene , could say of Weill: “If it had left in India, and not to the United States of America, it would have, I of it am almost certain, remarkably made up of the Indian music (…). This is why Germany can regard Weill as a German, France like a French, America like an American and me like a Black. ”
Kurt Weill is very close to Mahler and Schönberg. One describes it as atonal expressionist . Its meeting with Brecht (man of a communist/socialist theater) changes its way of writing the opera: it is halfway between the theater and the opera. Its two operas; Mahagonny and the Opera of quat' under are criticisms social. He writes for small units, on popular topics, in the idea to recreate the opera of gueux 18th century. Today, the whole of sound work is better known (Théâtre, musical comedies, instrumental works and symphonic, Cantate S, Lied er).
Among his universally known works, one can quote:
the Opera of quat' under ( Die Dreigroschenoper - 1928) on a text of Bertolt Brecht. A production with Broadway will see 2611 representations of 1945 with 1956. The role titrates of Jenny was interpreted by Lotte Lenya which held already this role in Berlin, during creation.
- Rise and fall of the town of Mahagony ( Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny - 1930) on a text of Bertolt Brecht.
- Seven deadly sins , written in 1933, also on texts of Bertold Brecht.
Around Kurt Weill
In its birthplace, Dessau, takes place each year an important festival devoted to works of Kurt Weill. That of 2005 took place at the end of February - at the beginning of March.
the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music (New York)
Kurt Weill Edition : work of edition criticizes of the whole of the work of Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill Newsletter : review publishing of work on Kurt Weill
the national Opéra of Lyon devoted a cycle in June 2006 to him with:
- seven deadly sins ,
- Flight of Lindbergh (or Flight with the top of the ocean) ,
- Signed Venus (One touch off Come) ,
- That which says yes/that which not says (Der Jasager/Der Neinsager) .
1926 : Der Protagonist (= the protagonist ), op.15, booklet of Georg Kaiser
- 1927: Royal Palace , op.17, booklet of Yvan Goll
- 1928: Der Zar lässt sich photographieren ( the tsar is made photograph ), op.21, booklet of Georg Kaiser
- 1930: Rise and fall of the town of Mahagony ( Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny ), booklet of Bertolt Brecht
- 1930: That which says yes/that which not say (Der Jasager/Der Neinsager) , booklet of Elisabeth Hauptmann and Bertolt Brecht
- 1932: Die Bürgschaft (= the Guarantee ), booklet of Caspar Neher
- 1947: Street Scene , booklet of Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes
- 1948: Down in the Valley , booklet of Arnold Sundgaard
Parts with songs
1927 : Mahagonny-Songspiel , booklet of Bertolt Brecht
- 1928: the Opera of quat' under ( Die Dreigroschenoper ), texts of Bertolt Brecht
- 1929: Happy End , texts of " Dorothy Lane" (pseudonym of Elisabeth Hauptmann), texts of the songs of Brecht
- 1933: Der Silbersee ( the money lake), texts of Georg Kaiser
- 1934: Gallant Marie (booklet of Jacques Deval, according to its homonymous novel, 1931)
- 1935: Der Kuhhandel , booklet of Robert Vambery, unfinished; at the origin: has Kingdom for has Cow
- 1945: The Firebrand off Florence ( the fire of Florence ), booklet of Edwin Justus Meyer and Will go Gershwin
- 1937: Der Weg der Verheißung ( the Road of the hope ), texts of Franz Werfel; created in the United States under the title The Eternal Road
1922 : Zaubernacht (magic Night), childish mime in an act COp 7; scenario and texts of the songs of Wladimir Boritsch
- 1933: Die sieben Todsünden ( seven deadly sins ), " ballet chanté" for soprano, quartet of men and orchestra, booklet of Bertolt Brecht (another title, less running: Die sieben Todsünden der Kleinbürger , seven deadly sins of the middle-class men)
1936 : Johnny Johnson , texts of Paul Green: Pacifism and patriotism; tally: The United States during the First World War, 1917-1918)
- 1938: Knickerbocker Holiday , texts of Maxwell Anderson; setting in scene with creation: Joshua Logan : Authoritarianism and freedom; tally: New York/New-Amsterdam in 1647, at times of Peter Stuyvesant; film made in 1944
- 1941: Lady in the Dark , texts of Moss Hart and Will go Gershwin: The psychoanalysis; tally: New Yorkean media medium; film made in 1943
- 1943: One Touch off Come , texts of Sidney Joseph Perelman and Ogden Nash: The place of the women in the american company; tally: New York, with a fantastic element, the animation of an ancient Venus statue; film made in 1948
- 1948: Coils Life , texts of Alan Jay Lerner: Family life in the american company; tally: the United States at various times of their history, 1791 to 1940
- 1949: Lost in the Stars , “tragedy musical”, texts of Maxwell Anderson, according to Cries, O beloved country of Alan Paton
- 1939 : Railroads one Parades , large spectacle (20 engines, inter alia) carried out for the International exhibition of New York; a reduced version will be setting-up in 1940
- 1941: Fun To Be Free , texts of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
- 1943: We Will Never Die , texts of Ben Hecht: The situation of the Jews in Europe hitlérienne
1920: Sulamith , imagination choral society for soprano, chorus of women and orchestra (lost)
- 1927: DER neue Orpheus (New Orphée), cantata for soprano, solo violin and Orchestra, op.16 (Text: Yvan Goll)
- 1928: Das Berliner Requiem (the Berliner Requiem), small cantata for tenor, baritone, chorus of men (or three votes of men) and brass band (Text: Bertolt Brecht)
- 1929: Der Lindberghflug (Flight of Lingbergh), low cantata for tenor, baritone and, chorus and orchestra (Text: Bertolt Brecht, first version with the music of Paul Hindemith and Weill, second version, also in 1929, with the music of Weill exclusively)
- 1940: The Balad off Magna Carta (the Ballade of the Large Charter), low cantata for tenor and, chorus and orchestra (Text: Maxwell Anderson); : Authoritarianism and freedom; tally: England of the fights between [[Jean Without Ground] and barons)] ; broadcasting (CBS)
1918 : String quartet in so minor (without number of Opus)
- 1919-1921: Sonata for violoncello and piano
- 1923: Second string quartet COp 8
Works for piano
1917 : Intermezzo
- 1937 : Page of album for Erika , transcription of the Pastoral of Der Weg der Verheißung )
Works for orchestra
1919 : Continuation for orchestra
- 1919: Die Weise von Liebe und Tod (the melody of the love and dead), symphonic poem for orchestra according to To groove Maria Rilke (lost)
- 1921: Symphony n° 1 in a movement for orchestra
- 1922: Divertimento for orchestra , op.5 (unfinished, rebuilt by David Drew)
- 1922: Sinfonia crowned, fantasia, passacaglia and anthem for orchestra , COp 6 (unfinished)
- 1923: Quodlibet , continuation for orchestra, starting from the mime Zaubernacht , COp 9
- 1925: Concert for violin and brass band , COp 12
- 1927: Bastille Musik , continuation for brass band (arranged by David Drew, 1975), starting from the incidental music of Gustav III , of August Strindberg
- 1928: Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (Small music of quat' under), continuation for brass band piano and Schlagwerk , starting from the Opera of quat' under ; creation directed by Otto Klemperer
- 1934: Panamanian Continuation for chamber orchestra, starting from Gallant Marie
- 1934: Symphony n° 2 in three movements for orchestra ; created by the royal Orchestra of Concertgebouw under the direction of Bruno Walter
Songs and songs
1919 : Die stille Stadt (= the quiet City ), song for voice and keyboard, text of Richard Dehmel
- 1923: Frauentanz (= Dance of the women ), continuation of songs for soprano, flute, viol, clarinet, horn and bassoon (according to a poem of the Middle Ages)
- 1923: Stundenbuch (= Book of the hours ), continuation of songs for baritone and orchestra; text To groove Maria Rilke
- 1925: Klopslied , for an acute voice, two Piccolo flutes and a bassoon (“Ick sitze da a” ess Lops'/Berliner Lied)
- 1928: songs drawn from the Opera of quat' under (words of Bertolt Brecht; French adaptation of Andre Mauprey)
- Moritat von Mackie Messer
- the Lament of Mackie Surineur
- Jenny-of-Corsairs , created with the cinema and on disc by Margo Lion; another title: Been engaged of the pirate (Lily Gauty, 1935). This song provides the original idea of the film Dogville , of Lars von Trier (2003) and (subject to examination) of that of Nelly Kaplan, Been engaged of the pirate
- the Song of the guns , created with the cinema and on disc by Albert Préjean and Jacques Henley
- the Song of Barbara (Lily Gauty, 1935)
- Das Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens
- the Song of the vanity of the human effort
- 1928 : Berlin im Licht-Song (= Song of Berlin in the light ), slow fox trot-fox, words of Kurt Weill; composed for the exposure Berlin im Licht , devoted to the novel methods of urban lighting; created on October 13rd in outside (orchestration: harmonize military) and on October 16th on scene (song and piano)
- 1928: Die Muschel von Margate : Petroleum Song (= the shell of Margate: petroleum song ), slow fox trot-fox, words of Felix Gasbarra, for the part of Leo Lania, Konjunktur
- 1928: Das Lied von den braunen Inseln (= song of the brown islands ), words of Lion Feuchtwanger, for the part of this author, Petroleum Inseln
- 1930: songs drawn from Rise and fall of the town of Mahagony (words of Bertolt Brecht)
- Denn wie man sich bettet (=Comme one makes its bed)
- 1933: Der Abschiedsbrief (= the Letter of good-bye ), words of Erich Kästner for Marlene Dietrich, which did not sing it
- 1933: Es regnet (= It rains ), words of Jean Cocteau (written directly in German)
- 1933: the Lament of Fantômas , words of Robert Desnos, for a radio broadcast (lost music, rebuilt of memory after the war by Jacques Loussier for Catherine Sauvage)
- 1934: I do not love you , on a text of Maurice Magre for the soprano Lys Gauty
- 1934: Lament of the Seine , on a text of Maurice Magre
- 1934: songs drawn from Gallant Marie :
- I await a ship , words of Jacques Deval; created with the theater and on disc by Florelle, with the variety by Lily Gauty
- the King of Aquitaine , words of Jacques Deval and Roger Fernay; created with the theater and on disc by Florelle
- Large Lustukru , words of Jacques Deval (according to Theodore Botrel); created with the theater and on disc by Florelle
- Youkali , words (1935) of Roger Fernay on an instrumental piece, " tango-habanera" , of the operetta
- 1939: Stopping by Woods one has Snowy Evening , song for voice and keyboard, words of Robert Frost (unfinished)
- 1939: Chicks Lied , text of Bertolt Brecht (of round Heads and pointed heads , 1936), creation (1943) of Burbot Lenya
- 1942-44: Propaganda Songs (= Songs of propaganda ), for voice and piano; created within the framework of the Buffet Hours Madnesses in a shipyard of New York, then broadcast, in particular:
- 1942 : Buddy one the Nightshift (= the buddy of the night shift ), words of Oscar Hammerstein
- 1942: Schickelgruber , words of Howard Dietz; a satire of Hitler (of which the father porrait this name before being recognized by Alois Hitler)
- 1942: Und was bekam of Soldaten Weib? did ( And what obtain the woman of the soldier? ), ballade for voice and keyboard, text of Bertolt Brecht, creation of Burbot Lenya
- 1942: Three Walt Whitman Songs , for voice and keyboard or orchestra, on texts of Walt Whitman:
- O Captain, My Captain
- Happy! Happy! Drums
- Dirge for Two Veterans
- 1944: Wie lange noch ? (= How long still? ), words of Walter Mehring, creation of Burbot Lenya
- 1948: Furnace Walt Whitman Songs ; addition of a fourth song:
- Like Up From the Fields, Father
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