Weill, Kurt (Julian)

Weill, Kurt (Julian)

biographical name

(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 post gave him wide experience. For a master class with Ferruccio Busoni (1920), he wrote his first symphony. He gained attention with his one-act opera Der Protagonist (1925); its sparse and spiky style prefigured that of his greatest works. In 1927 he teamed with Bertolt Brecht to write The Threepenny Opera (1928) in a new “cabaret” style; the musical had enormous success in Berlin and elsewhere. In 1930 the two produced The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. When the Nazis took power in 1933, he fled to Paris with his wife, Lotte Lenya, where he wrote The Seven Deadly Sins (1933). In 1935 the couple immigrated to the U.S.; there he collaborated on musicals such as Knickerbocker Holiday (1938) and Lost in the Stars (1949). Two of his songs, the “Morit├Ąt” (“Mack the Knife”) from Threepenny Opera and “September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday, have remained especially popular.

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