Lenya, Lotte

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1898-10-18
Death 1981-11-27
Americans
German, Italian, English, French

Biographical notes:

Born in Austria, Lenya became an actress in Zürich, then moved to Berlin where she met and married Kurt Weill. They emigrated to the U.S. in 1935, where Lenya lived until her death a few months after this interview was recorded.

From the description of An oral history interview with Lotte Lenya / conducted for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music by Alan Rich, New City, N.Y., 1981 : recording and transcript. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122583686

Austrian singer-actress; became American citizen in 1943. Lotte Lenya is principally known as an iterpreter of songs by her husband, Kurt Weill. After Weill's death in 1950, she (along with her second husband, George Davis), sparked renewed interest in Weill's music both in the U.S. and Europe. She also starred in Cabaret on Broadway and appeared in numerous movies. Lenya displayed a combination of dramatic insight and musical instinct, and her performance style was known for intelligence, wit, coolness, and passion.

From the description of Library, 1950-1981. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 152675415

Austrian-American actor and singer married to German-American composer Kurt Weill until his death in 1950.

From the description of Reel-to-reel tapes, ca. 1950-1981 (bulk 1960-1980). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122435381

Viennese native Karoline Blamauer, after moving to Berlin and adopting the stage name Lotte Lenya, became widely known in 1928 as a singing actress performing in Die Dreigroschenoper, a ballad opera composed by her husband, Kurt Weill, to a libretto adapted by Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann from John Gay's Beggar's opera. After emigrating with Weill to the United States in 1935, she performed at first with less frequency, not fully establishing herself in the American theater until 1954, when she appeared in The threepenny opera, the English-language adaptation of the above-mentioned work. Therefter she achieved her greatest popular successes in the original stage version of Cabaret and in a number of films, including From Russia with love, The Roman spring of Mrs. Stone, and Semi-tough. She was also very active, after Weill's death in 1950, in performing in concerts of his music, in collecting information for a biography of him, and in managing his estate.

From the description of Personal correspondence, 1922-1981 (bulk, 1950-1981). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122469690

Born in Austria, Lenya became an actress in Zürich, then moved to Berlin where she met and married Kurt Weill. They emigrated to the U.S. in 1935, where Lenya lived and devoted herself to acting and singing, particularly in the works of Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

From the description of An oral history interview with Lotte Lenya / conducted for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, [196-] : recording and transcript. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122487563

From the description of An oral history interview with Lotte Lenya / conducted for the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music by George Sturm : recording and transcript. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122416005

Austrian-American actor and singer. As Kurt Weill's widow and leading promoter in the 1950's and 1960's, Lenya collected recordings of his music in popular arrangements and also had a taste for popular or cabaret music by other composers.

From the description of Commercial 45 RPM sound discs, [ca.1950]-1969. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122536474

Austrian-American actor and singer. As Kurt Weill's widow and leading promoter in the 1950's and 1960's, Lenya collected recordings of his music and the music of his contemporaries. Her career as a recording artist in the 1950's and 1960's is documented, as most of her own commercial recordings are represented here.

From the description of Commercial 33-1/3 RPM sound discs, [ca. 1950]-1981. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122583696

After the death of Kurt Weill in 1950, his wife, actress Lotte Lenya, managed the business affairs of his estate and functioned as caretaker of his music manuscripts. The manuscripts were stored in a bank vault in Manhattan, but were removed from time to time when they were needed. The manuscripts were transferred to the Yale University Music Library in 1981.

From the description of Archival inventories, [195-]-1979. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122346910

American singing actress of Austrian birth.

From the description of Typewritten letter, dated : New York, 21 May 1980, to James J. Fuld, 1980 May 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270874488

Not only Lenya's acting/singing career, but her role as preserver and protector of Kurt Weill's work and reputation and her life after Weill form the basis for this collection. She was a businesswoman and promoter as well as a singer and actress. Her later husbands, George Davis, Russell Detwiler, and Richard Siemanowski, are represented mainly by photographs; many of her friends are also represented, especially Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel. Lenya's popularity and status as an institution of the theater show clearly.

From the description of Papers, 1923-1982 (bulk, 1950-1980). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122579854

Austrian-American actor and singer married to Kurt Weill until his death in 1950.

From the description of Non-commercial sound recordings, [ca. 1935]-1969 (bulk, 1940-1950). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122487562

From the description of Commercial 78 RPM sound discs, [ca. 1928]-[ca. 1950]. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122346912

After the death of Kurt Weill in 1950, his wife, the actress Lotte Lenya, was encouraged by George Davis and David Drew to write both her own memoirs and a biography of Weill. She was also asked on certain occasions to contribute articles on Weill's music, her acting and singing career, or both at once. Throughout the last thirty years of her life, she was a popular subject of interviews both in Germany and the United States.

From the description of Writings and interviews, [195-]-1979. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 152675212

Lotte Lenya was a singing actress who achieved fame in the role of Jenny in the first production of the musical Die Dreigroschenoper (Berlin, 1928) by Kurt Weill (her husband at the time), to a libretto by Bertolt Brecht; thereafter, throughout her career she continued to be identified primarily with the works of Weill and Brecht (both together and separately).

Other works of the two together which she performed in (or selections from) are Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Happy end, and Die sieben Todsünden. In addition, she became known for her readings of German poetry, including Brecht's, and for her performances in his plays, among them Mutter Courage (also in English, as Mother Courage), and in the revue Brecht on Brecht. After Weill's death in 1950, Lenya not only became executrix of his estate, but also resumed her performing career in earnest, and thus had manifold reasons beyond "old time's sake" not only to keep in touch with both Brecht and his wife, the actress Helene Weigel, but also to collect print and non-print materials providing documentation of the influential author and his works.

From the description of Brecht collection : writings by the author, articles about him or Helene Weigel, documentation of productions of his stage works and of revues derived from them, and mementos, 1951-1973. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 152675279

American singing actress of Austrian birth.

Lotte Lenya, born Karoline Wilhelmine Blaumauer, was known for her performances of Kurt Weill's works.

From the description of Scripts, [ca. 1920]-1981. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155507990

Lotte Lenya was a singing actress known especially for her performances in the stage works of Brecht and her first husband, Kurt Weill.

She achieved fame in the role of Jenny in the first production of the musical Die Dreigroschenoper (Berlin, 1928). Other stage works of Weill and Brecht in which she appeared before 1936 are Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and fall of the city of Mahagonny) and Sieben Todsünden (Seven deadly sins). She also appeared as Jenny in the film of Dreigroschenoper, directed by G.W. Pabst (1931). Together with Weill she emigrated to the United States in 1935. She performed in concerts and productions of his stage works, and became especially known for her central role in introducing his European works in the U.S. (e.g. as Jenny in The threepenny opera) and for reviving them in post-war Europe. After Weill's death in 1950 she became involved in the administration of his estate. She further established her reputation as a performer with a special hold on her audiences through appearances in stage works by/about Brecht, in the musical Cabaret, and in a number of films.

From the description of Letters to Eric Bentley and Irwin Silber, 1961-1968. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122574765

Kurt Weill was born in Dessau, Germany on March 2, 1900. His father was a cantor and composer of Jewish sacred music, so Weill received musical training from an early age. He later studied with Humperdinck at the Berlin Musikhochschule for a year, but his most important composition teacher would prove to be Ferruccio Busoni, with whom he studied for several years in Berlin.

In the early phase of his career, Weill supported himself by working as a radio journalist and music teacher. (Maurice Abravanel and Claudio Arrau were numbered among his pupils.) Several of Weill's works were published and performed in this period, but he gained wider acclaim with his opera Der Protagonist (1926), with a libretto by Georg Kaiser. Weill and Kaiser also worked together on Der Zar lässt sich photographieren and Der Silbersee . Weill's most celebrated collaborator, however, was Bertolt Brecht, who wrote the texts for works such as Mahagonny Songspiel, Das Berliner Requiem, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, and Die sieben Todsünden . Their greatest success was Die Dreigroschenoper (1928), which caused an international sensation and made Weill financially secure. Although he specialized in music for the theater, Weill also composed instrumental works in the 1920s and '30s, including symphonies, string quartets, and a violin concerto.

As a left-leaning modernist intellectual of Jewish birth, Weill was an obvious target for Nazi hostility, and he fled to Paris shortly after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. In 1935 he moved to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. In America Weill composed numerous works for Broadway, ranging from the popular Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady in the Dark, and One Touch of Venus to the tragic Street Scene ; he collaborated with a remarkable series of playwrights and lyricists including Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart, Langston Hughes, S.J. Perelman, and Ogden Nash. He also wrote four film scores. Several songs from Weill's dramatic works became popular hits, most notably "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" (from Die Dreigroschenoper, and known in English as "Mack the Knife") and "September Song" (from Knickerbocker Holiday ). Weill died in New York in 1950.

Karoline Wilhelmine Blamauer, who used the name Lotte Lenya, was born in Vienna in 1898. She began her career as a dancer in the Zurich ballet in 1914. In 1920 she moved to Berlin, where two years later, encouraged by Georg Kaiser, she became involved in the spoken theater. Kaiser also introduced Lenya to Weill, whom she married in 1926. She sang in the 1927 performance of Mahagonny-Songspiel at the Baden-Baden festival, and in 1928 she appeared as Jenny in Die Dreigroschenoper in Berlin, a role that won her international acclaim. Lenya appeared in three more of Weill's works during his lifetime: Die Sieben Todsünden, The Eternal Road, and The Firebrand of Florence . Weill and Lenya divorced in 1933 and remarried in 1937.

After Weill's death, Lenya devoted much of her time and energy to promoting and performing his music. The Threepenny Opera (Marc Blitzstein's English adaptation of Die Dreigroschenoper ) was a resounding success on Broadway, and in 1956 Lenya won a Tony Award for her performance. Her activities were not limited to her husband's works, however, and she appeared in a number of other plays and films: Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Brecht on Brecht, the James Bond thriller From Russia with Love, the Broadway production of Cabaret, The Appointment, and Semi-Tough . She died in 1981.

From the guide to the Register to the Papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984, inclusive, (Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University)

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Subjects:

  • Music--Performance
  • Music--20th century
  • Theater
  • Actresses--20th century
  • Women--Diaries
  • Composers--Correspondence
  • Opera
  • Music in the theater
  • Music--Germany--20th Century
  • Music--United States--20th century
  • Sound recordings--Private collections
  • Actresses--Correspondence
  • Theater--1918-1933
  • Motion pictures
  • Theater--20th century
  • Singers--20th century
  • Television and the performing arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Musicals

Occupations:

  • Composers
  • Women singers
  • Actors
  • Collector

Places:

  • Germany (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)