Kurt Weill was born in Dessau, Germany on March 2nd, 1900. His father was a Jewish cantor and as a young boy, Weill displayed great musical talents. During World War I, he was accompanist for the opera singers at the Dessau Court Theatre. Following early musical studies, he enrolled at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, but was unsatisfied with the conservative training of Engelbert Humperdinck. He worked as a conductor and returned to Berlin to study with with Ferruccio Busoni. His other diverse musical experiences included working as a synagogue organist, Bierkeller pianist, music critic and tutoring music students including Claudio Arrau and Maurice Abravanel.
Weill’s early music was influenced by Wagner, Mahler and Schoenberg. By the mid 1920’s he had become established as one of the leading composers of his day. His first opera, Der Protagonist was performed in Dresden in 1926. Several other operas followed and the use of American jazz idioms began to define his style of composition. He first collaborated with playwright Bertold Brecht in 1927 on a songspiel, Mahagonny. It was during this same period that he wrote The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper). Weill’s jazzy scores from this period outraged Nazi officials and made him a target for their propaganda. His works were discouraged or hampered by riots at their performances. In March of 1933, he fled Germany and went to Paris, where he continued to work on operas, symphonic music and even a ballet with singing for George Balanchine’s company.
In 1935, Weill traveled to the United States where his works were enthusiastically received. Turning to Broadway he produced a number of works for the musical theatre, collaborating with Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, S. J. Perelman, Langston Hughes and Alan Jay Lerner. He also wrote other music including film scores for Hollywood, and during World War II, was active in artistic projects aimed at boosting war efforts and morale. Kurt Weill died on April 3rd, 1950.
Kurt Weill — Songs from The Threepenny Opera
A suite from the jazzy 1920’s “Beggars’ Opera” including the Overture, Solomon’s Song, Ballad of Gracious Living, Song of the Insufficiency of Human Endeavor, and the popular Mac the Knife. A wonderful arrangement by clarinetist Alan R. Kay.
For Woodwind Quintet, 16 minutes.
WW5-9813 . . . $42.00