Kurt Weill

Biography

Born: March 2, 1900; Dessau, Germany   Died: April 3, 1950; New York, NY  
The son of a cantor, Kurt Weill was born in Dessau into a family that took in operatic performances as a main form of entertainment. When Weill was in his teens the director of the Dessau Hoftheater, Albert Bing, encouraged him in the study of music. Weill briefly studied composition with Engelbert Humperdinck and was already working professionally as a conductor when he attended composer Ferruccio Busoni's master classes in Berlin. Delighted to Read more see the positive responses of an audience to his first collaboration with playwright Georg Kaiser, Der Protagonist (1926), he thereafter resolved to work toward accessibility in his music. In 1926 Weill married actress Lotte Lenya, whose reedy, quavering singing voice he called "the one I hear in my head when I am writing my songs."

In 1927 Weill began his collaboration with leftist playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht; their first joint venture, Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927), launched the number "Alabama Song," which, to their surprise, became a minor pop hit in Europe. The next show, Die Dreigroschenoper (The Three-Penny Opera, 1928) was a monstrous success, in particular the song "Moritat" (Mack the Knife). Nonetheless, strain in their association was already being felt, and after the completion of their magnificent "school opera" Der Jasager (1930), the two parted company. Brecht and Weill were brought together once more in Paris to create Die Sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins) (1934). In the meantime, Weill collaborated with Caspar Neher on the opera Die Bürgschaft (1931) and Georg Kaiser again on Der Silbersee (1933), works that garnered the hostile attention of the then-emerging Nazi party. With the rise to power of Hitler, Weill and Lenya were forced to dissolve their union and flee continental Europe. Weill found his way to New York in 1935; rejoining Lenya, Weill became a citizen and devoted himself to American democracy with a vengeance, preferring his name pronounced like "wile" rather than "vile." After a series of frustrating flops, Weill hit his stride with playwright Maxwell Anderson, producing his first hit, Knickerbocker Holiday (1938). In the dozen years left to him, Weill's stature on Broadway grew with a series of hit shows, including Lady in the Dark (1941), One Touch of Venus (1943), Love Life (1948), and Lost in the Stars (1949). Weill had ambitions to create what he regarded as "the first American folk opera"; the closest of his American works to reach that goal is Street Scene (1946), a sort of "urban folk opera" based on a play by Elmer Rice with lyrics by Langston Hughes.

On April 3, 1950, Weill unexpectedly suffered a massive coronary and died in Lenya's arms. Weill's estate was valued at less than 1,000 dollars, and Lenya realized that his contribution to musical theater was likewise undervalued. She commissioned composer Marc Blitzstein to adapt an English-language version of Die Dreigroschenoper; it opened off-Broadway in 1954 and ran for three years, touching off a Weill revival that continues. Read less
Weill: Seven Deadly Sins / Stratas, Kimball
Release Date: 06/10/2003   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 2904   Number of Discs: 1
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Weill: Street Scene / Mauceri, Barstow, Ramey, Reaux, Hadley
Release Date: 06/12/2008   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 433371   Number of Discs: 2
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Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny / Conlon, McDonald, LuPone
Release Date: 12/11/2007   Label: Euroarts  
Catalog: 2056258   Number of Discs: 1
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Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny / Henschel, White, Heras-Casado
Release Date: 11/15/2011   Label: Bel Air Classiques  
Catalog: 67   Number of Discs: 1
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Weill: Street Scene / Original Broadway Cast
Release Date: 10/25/1990   Label: Cbs Masterworks  
Catalog: 44668   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 266 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Kurt Weill: Meisterwerke
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10184 Release Date: 09/19/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Inge Wolffberg,  Trude Hesterberg,  Willi Trenk-Trebitsch,  Wolfgang Grunert  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhe Bruckner-Ruggeberg,  Siegfried Köhler,  Charles Sanford,  Axel Stordahl
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  • 2.
    Ute Lemper: 3 Classic Albums
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002131602 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Mischa Spoliansky,  Friedrich Hollaender,  Rudolf Nelson  ... 
    Performer:  Ute Lemper,  Wolfgang Meyer,  Kai Rautenberg,  Jeff Cohen  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri,  Robert Ziegler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Ensemble,  Berlin RIAS Sinfonietta,  London Voices  ... 
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  • 3.
    Lieder Eines Armen Madchens
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 99006 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hanns Eisler,  Friedrich Hollaender,  Kurt Weill,  Czeslaw Niemen
    Performer:  Nina Proll,  Trio de Salon
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  • 4.
    Escape to Paradise - The Hollywood Album / Daniel Hope
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002145302 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Miklós Rózsa,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Hanns Eisler  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Hope,  Maria Todtenhaupt,  Sting,  Jacques Ammon  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Shelley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra,  Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin Quartet,  Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin Quintet
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  • 5.
    Behind the Lines / Anna Prohaska
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002092902 Release Date: 07/29/2014  
    Composer:  Traditional,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hanns Eisler,  Hugo Wolf  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Prohaska,  Eric Schneider
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  • 6.
    Most Wanted Recitals - George London On Broadway
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002065402 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  Frederick Loewe,  Kurt Weill,  Jerome Kern  ... 
    Performer:  George London
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
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  • 7.
    Le Meilleur D'une Vie: Enregistrements 1958-1997
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 631289 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  George Frideric Handel,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Jane Parker-Smith,  Pierre Pierlot,  Gérard Jarry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Martini,  Herbert von Karajan,  Jean-François Paillard,  Riccardo Muti  ... 
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  • 8.
    Weill: One Touch Of Venus / Errico, Barrett, Clark, Kaye
    Label: Jay Records   Catalog: 1362 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Judy Kaye,  Melissa Errico,  Brent Barrett,  Victoria Clark  ... 
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  • 9.
    Jewish Composers In America - The Zamir Chorale Of Boston
    Label: Zamir Chorale   Catalog: 917 Release Date: 05/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sholom Secunda,  Johnny Mercer,  Herman Wohl,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Conductor:  Joshua Jacobson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zamir Chorale Boston
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  • 10.
    Broadway to Hollywood / Richard Glazier
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3347 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bronislaw Kaper,  Bernard Herrmann,  George Gershwin,  Frederick Loewe  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Glazier
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  • 11.
    Voices of Firestone DVD 4-Pack - Bjorling, Sutherland, Merrill, Stevens
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4938 Release Date: 04/07/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  Georges Bizet,  Rudolf Friml,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Risë Stevens,  Jussi Björling,  Anne-Lisa Björling,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Howard Barlow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Voice of Firestone Orchestra
    On sale! $34.99
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  • 12.
    Far Away /  Thomas Michael Allen, Charles Spencer
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5194 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gabriel Fauré,  Alexander v. Zemlinsky,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Spencer,  Thomas Michael [Tenor Vocals] Allen
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  • 13.
    Chanticleer - How Sweet the Sound
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 641038 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Giovanni Palestrina,  Ignacio Jerusalem,  Manuel de Zumaya,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Kevin Baum,  Christopher Fritzsche,  Frank Albinder,  Douglas [Tenor Vocals] Wright  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Jennings,  Ettore Stratta,  Frank Albinder,  Skip Sempé
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chanticleer,  Chanticleer Sinfonia,  Don Haas Trio  ... 
    CD: $68.99
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  • 14.
    Teldec - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 643851 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonín Dvorák,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Josef Protschka,  Barbara Bonney,  Edita Gruberova  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Carlo Rizzi,  Reinbert De Leeuw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 15.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Melody Mixture
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5197 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dolf van der Linden,  Henry Mancini,  Edward "Duke" Ellington,  Dimitri Tiomkin  ... 
    Performer:  Tommy Reilly
    Conductor:  Ludo Philipp,  Frank Cordell,  Wal-Berg,  Wally Stott  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fred Hartley Music
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  • 16.
    Weill: Violin Concerto; Milhaud, Stravinsky / Pieranunzi, Tate
    Label: Concerto   Catalog: 2071 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Darius Milhaud,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Gabriele Pieranunzi,  Alessandro Carbonare,  Enrico Pieranunzi
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    20th Century Music / Otto Klemperer [4-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 044012 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Kurt Weill,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Paul Hindemith  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonia String Quartet,  New Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 18.
    Shirley Verrett Edition
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802167 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Traditional,  Eliseo Grenet,  Abel Meeropol,  Kurt Weill  ... 
    Performer:  Shirley Verrett,  Charles Wadsworth
    Conductor:  Leonard De Paur,  Renato Fasano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Chorus,  Virtuosi di Roma  ... 
    CD: $27.49
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  • 19.
    The John Eliot Gardiner Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001826002 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker,  Bryn Terfel  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts  ... 
    CD: $104.49
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  • 20.
    Weill: Zaubernacht /  Ania Vegry, Arte Ensemble
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777767 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Ania Vegry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arte Ensemble
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  • 21.
    Neuland
    Label: Ars Musici   Catalog: 233484 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Claude Debussy,  Ryohei Hirose,  Dizzy Gillespie  ... 
    Performer:  Albrecht Maurer,  Torsten Muller
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flautando Cologne
    CD: $24.99
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  • 22.
    50 Best Sensual Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333022 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  James Horner,  Pietro Mascagni,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Nino Rota  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Cécile Ousset,  Mikhail Rudy,  Natasha Marsh  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  Lawrence Foster,  Simon Rattle,  François-Xavier Roth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Cellists,  Ahn Trio,  Virtuosi
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  • 23.
    Exiles' Cafe / Lara Downes
    Label: Steinway & Sons   Catalog: 30016 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Bohuslav Martinu  ... 
    Performer:  Lara Downes
    Recommendation
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  • 24.
    Violin Encores / Jascha Heifetz
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1296 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Edouard Lalo,  George Gershwin,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Milton Kaye
    Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein,  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
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  • 25.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Melodies For The Starlight Hours
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5196 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Katscher,  Jerome Kern,  Frederick Loewe,  Hubert Giraud  ... 
    Performer:  Steve Race,  Harry Pitch
    Conductor:  Laurie Johnson,  Buddy Bregman,  Percy Faith,  Andre Kostelanetz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher
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