Weill, Kurt

Alternative names
Birth 1900-03-02
Death 1950-04-03
French, German, English

Biographical notes:

As a result of the success of his Broadway musical Lady in the dark in 1941, German-born composer Kurt Weill and his wife, the singing actress Lotte Lenya, were able to buy "Brook House," in Rockland County, New York, moving there during their sixth year in the United States. From Brook House, and a couple of addresses in Los Angeles during his trips there, Weill kept in touch, until a month before his death, with his parents, who had emigrated to Israel in 1935.

From the description of Letters to his parents, [1925?]-1950 (bulk, 1941-1950). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122520707

Beginning in Berlin in the early 1920's, Weill established himself as a successful theater composer in Germany (until early 1933) and the United States (1935-1950), winning numerous honors (some posthumously) and developing relationships with many leading playwrights, composers, actors (most notably his wife, Lotte Lenya), and directors in Germany and the U.S.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1915-1979 (bulk, 1935-1950). (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122520694

Lotte Lenya (née Karoline Wilhelmine Blamauer; 1898-1981) was the wife of Kurt Weill; they were married in 1926, divorced around 1933, and remarried in 1936. Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya both fled Germany in 1933, and divorced shortly thereafter. They reconciled in 1935, around the time that they departed together for New York City, where Weill then oversaw Max Reinhardt's production of Franz Werfel's bibilical drama The Eternal Road, for which Weill had written the score. In 1951, Lotte Lenya married the writer and editor George Davis; he died in 1957. In 1962 she married the artist Russell Detwiler.

From the description of Correspondence to Alma Mahler, 1937-1963. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155864769

German-born American composer.

From the description of Published music of Kurt Weill in the collections of the Weill-Lenya Research Center, 1924-[ongoing]. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122487572

German composer; American citizen from 1943. Weill was one of the outstanding composers in the generation that came to maturity after World War I, and a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theater. His successful and innovatory work for Broadway during the 1940s was a development in more popular terms of the mixed form which he had evolved in Europe, in which a substantial musical score is an essential part of, or comment on, the spoken drama.

From the description of Library, [191-]-1950. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122641802

German-American composer and Austrian-American singer/actress. Beginning in Berlin in the early 1920s, Weill established himself as a successful composer of operas and theater music in Germany (until 1933) and the United States (1935-50), winning numerous honors and developing relationships with leading playwrights, composers, actors, and directors. His wife, a Viennese native born as Karoline Blamauer, moved to Berlin in 1921 and adopted the stage name Lotte Lenya. She became widely known in 1928 as a singing actress performing in Die Dreigroschenoper, a ballad opera composed by 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 with less frequency until she and George Davis began the Weill renaissance in the 1950s, during which she established herself as the foremost interpreter of Weill's songs.

From the description of Weill-Lenya correspondence, 1925-1948. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 86164810

Born in Germany, composer Kurt Weill dedicated himself to the theater early, and became an extraordinary success, both artistically and commercially. Proscribed by the Nazi regime, he fled to America, where he distinguished himself with a series of landmark musical ventures which were experimental, original, and uniquely successful. Among his collaborators were Bertolt Brecht, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, and Langston Hughes.

From the description of Kurt Weill letter to Louis Simon, 1939 July 26. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 52184785

German composer, American citizen from 1943.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : [n.p., New York?], 16 February 1947, to Cas[par Neher], 1947 Feb. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270679086

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, [n.d., 1935?], to Herr [Paul] Bekker, [n.d., 1935?]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270873860

German composer.

From the description of "For Max and Mab / Christmas 1941 / Walt Whitman's / O Captain! My Captain! / set to music by / Kurt Weill" : autograph manuscript, 1941. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270571314

From the description of [Ich sitze da un [sic] esse Klops.] : autograph manuscript. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270571312

German-born composer.

German-born actress.

From the description of The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 122501258

German composer.

Weill was an American citizen from 1943. He was a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theater.

From the description of Music manuscripts and sketches, 1914-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155508411

German-born actress.

German-born composer.

From the description of The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 702188923

Schoolmate and friend of composer Kurt Weill and son of Weill's teacher in Dessau, Albert Bing, Peter also made a career in music.

From ca. late June 1926 he seems to have been employed as assistant conductor in Halle.

From the description of Letters and postcards to Peter and Albert Bing, 1918-1926. (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). WorldCat record id: 122536468

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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