Kurt Weill

7 Feb 2014

Before fleeing Nazi Germany for Paris in March 1933, Kurt Weill had established himself as the leading theatrical composer in Germany with a dozen stage works. His collaborations with Bertolt Brecht yielded some of his most famous works, including The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. In Paris, Weill wrote his second symphony and The Seven Deadly Sins (with Brecht) for George Balanchine’s Les Ballets 1933. He came to New York in 1935 for Max Reinhardt’s Eternal Road (Franz Werfel), but before it opened in 1937, the Group Theatre had already produced Johnny Johnson (Paul Green). Weill’s first Broadway success was Knickerbocker Holiday (Maxwell Anderson; film score nominated for a 1944 Oscar), followed by Lady in the Dark (Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart), One Touch of Venus (Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman), Street Scene (Elmer Rice, Langston Hughes; 1947 special Tony Award), and Love Life (Alan Jay Lerner; the first “concept” musical). Lost in the Stars (Anderson) was Weill’s final Broadway work before he died at age 50. He was survived by his wife and foremost interpreter, Lotte Lenya, who devoted the rest of her life to promoting his works, beginning with the overwhelming success of the 1954 Off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera (adapted by Marc Blitzstein) and a series of now-classic recordings. www.kwf.org.