Weill, Kurt

(1900-1950)
   composer and musician; best known for his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht.* Born in Dessau to a Jewish cantor, he was soon drawn to music* and began studies with Albert Bing, music director at Dessau s court theater,* when he was fifteen. In 1918 he studied with Engelbert Hum-perdinck; in 1921 he joined Ferruccio Busoni s* composition master class at the Prussian Academy of Arts.
   A champion of modern music, Busoni had a profound impact on Weill, who composed his first symphony in 1921. Weill soon became interested in musical theater and collaborated in 1925 with the playwright Georg Kaiser* on Der Protagonist, a one-act opera (he met the actress Lotte Lenya, his future wife, through Kaiser). He was also music critic from 1925 for Der deutsche Rundfunk, a weekly broadcasting journal. But he was above all Brecht s collaborator. From 1927, in five years of uneasy alliance, he created ballads and jazz to match Brecht s lyrics about murder, bourgeois morality, and prostitution. The famed Threepenny Opera*(Die Dreigroschenoper) appeared in 1928; Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and fall of the city of Mahagonny) was com-pleted in 1929, as was Happy End. He also wrote incidental music (e.g., Ma-hagonny Songspiel, Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, and songs for Brecht s Mann ist Mann). Although Arnold Schoenberg* quipped that Weill's "is the only music in the world in which I can find no quality at all," by 1930 Die Dreigroschen-oper had been performed more than 4,200 times throughout Europe.
   The final Weill-Brecht collaboration, Die Sieben Todsunden (The seven deadly sins), premiered in Paris in June 1933. Of Jewish ancestry and a com-poser whose music epitomized Kulturbolschewismus* to the NSDAP, Weill was facing arrest when he escaped to France in March 1933. In 1935 he emigrated to the United States. One of the few emigres to prosper abroad, he refused to pine for Berlin. Indeed, he so embraced New York that old associates accused him of selling out to Broadway. Actually, he understood that Americans were not interested in his German music. It took Lenya's efforts after his death for Americans to appreciate The Threepenny Opera; his mellow American com-positions—for example, "September Song," "Mile after Mile," and "Speak Low"—were quite popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
   REFERENCES:Drew, Kurt Weill; Gilliam, Music and Performance; Sanders, Days Grow Short; Schebera, Kurt Weill; Ronald Taylor, Kurt Weill.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • WEILL, KURT — (1900–1950), composer. The son of a ḥazzan, Weill was born in Dessau and studied under the composer Busoni in Berlin. He at first wrote operas and symphonic and chamber music, but later turned to social satire in the theater. Weill formed an… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Weill,Kurt — Weill (wīl, vīl), Kurt. 1900 1950. German born composer who collaborated with Bertolt Brecht on The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1927) and The Threepenny Opera (1928). * * * …   Universalium

  • Weill, Kurt — ▪ German American composer in full  Kurt Julian Weill   born March 2, 1900, Dessau, Ger. died April 3, 1950, New York, N.Y., U.S.  German born American composer who created a revolutionary kind of opera of sharp social satire in collaboration… …   Universalium

  • Weill, Kurt — (1900 50)    German composer. Born in Dessau, he studied at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin and became conductor of the municipal opera in Lüdenscheid. His early compositions include Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Der Protagonist and… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Weill, Kurt — ► (1900 50) Compositor alemán. Musicó para Bertolt Brecht La ópera de cuatro cuartos (1928) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Weill, Kurt —  (1900–1950) German born American composer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Weill, Kurt (Julian) — (2 mar. 1900, Dessau, Alemania–3 abr. 1950, Nueva York. N.Y., EE.UU.). Compositor estadounidense de origen alemán. Hijo de un cantor, a los 15 años de edad ya trabajaba como pianista de acompañamiento en un teatro. Estudió composición fugazmente… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Weill, Kurt (Julian) — born March 2, 1900, Dessau, Ger. died April 3, 1950, New York. N.Y., U.S. German born U.S. composer. Son of a cantor, by age 15 he was working as a theatre accompanist. He studied composition briefly with Engelbert Humperdinck, and a conductor s… …   Universalium

  • Weill — Weill, Kurt …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Kurt Julian Weill — Kurt Weill Kurt Julian Weill (* 2. März 1900 in Dessau; † 3. April 1950 in New York) war ein deutscher und später amerikanischer Komponist. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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