Synopses & Reviews
This engaging and lavishly illustrated book draws on a wealth of previously unexplored written and pictorial material to present an up-to-date and balanced biography of Kurt Weill, whose life was as rich and complex as the music for which he is acclaimed.
"Schebera's life of the composer, which reads smoothly in Caroline Murphy's English translation ... contains intelligent and helpful comment on the music, and is especially valuable for its many illustrations, several of them of rare photographs and documents, and all of them fascinating". -- Charles Osborne, Sunday Telegraph
"Nearly every page includes a photograph, concert programme or record label. This abundance does not, however, imply that any sacrifice has been made in the text, which meticulously charts the composition, premiering and critical reception of Weill's theatre and concert works. Such a wealth of detail makes this thoroughly researched book one which will be of value to anyone with an interest in the composer". -- Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday
"An extraordinarily instructive, well-considered, and absorbing book". -- Schwann Opus
"A beautifully illustrated and informative introduction to one of our century's most fascinating composers. A very accessible book". -- Teresa Stratas
Kurt Weill--the famed composer of The Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Knickerbocker Holiday, One Touch of Venus, Lost in the Stars, and many other musical works--led a life as rich and complex as the music for which he is so justly acclaimed. This engaging and lavishly illustrated book draws on a wealth of previously unexplored written and pictorial material to present a biography of Weill that is the most up-to-date and balanced ever written.
Jurgen Schebera explores the many phases of Weill's life, from his childhood as the son of a cantor in the Jewish section of Dessau, Germany, to his renunciation of Germany in 1933, his emigration to America in 1935, and his premature death there in 1950. Schebera describes Weill's rise to prominence during the Weimar Republic, when he created brilliant orchestral and chamber music and became a leading operatic innovator; his marriage, divorce, and remarriage to the famed actress Lotte Lenya; his escape from Nazi Germany, exile in France, and move to America; his collaboration with such famed writers and lyricists as Georg Kaiser, Bertolt Brecht, Maxwell Anderson, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, S.J. Perelman, and Ogden Nash; and his efforts in the United States to aid the mobilization for war. He presents fascinating information about Weill's musical creations: an anti-war musical (Johnny Johnson); a biblical drama (The Eternal Road); his first American song "hit," "September Song;" a Kiddush for cantor, chorus, and organ; a new genre of Broadway opera (Street Scene); a musical tragedy (Lost in the Stars); and many other musical ventures in New York and Hollywood. Schebera contends that it is pointless to argue the relative merits of Weill's music from his European and American periods, as many critics have done, for as Weill himself said, "I have never acknowledged the difference between 'serious' music and 'light' music. There is only good music and bad music." And, in fact, the current international renaissance of Kurt Weill's works attests to the beauty, originality, and variety of the music he composed throughout his career.
First published in Germany to enthusiastic reviews, this English edition adds new information and illustrations to the earlier work.