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Kurt Weill, ca. 1901
Kurt Weill, about 1901

Emma Weill mit Sohn Kurt
Kurt Weill with his mother

The Weill siblings Hanns, Nathan, Kurt (in front), Ruth

Kurt Weill at the piano
Kurt Weill at the piano, Dessau, 1916

Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill in 1923

Family reunion in Leipzig, summer 1926
Kurt Weill, back row right;
Lotte Lenya, front row right

Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill in 1930

Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill in Vienna, 1933

Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill in Salzburg, 1935

Weill and Lenya
Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1938/39

Kurt Weill in Brook House
Kurt Weill in Brook House, 1947

The Life of Kurt Weill

2 March, 1900
Born in Dessau as the son of the Jewish cantor.
School enrollment in Dessau.
1909 – 1918
Attending high school at the Herzogliche Friedrichs-Oberrealschule
First preserved composition Mi Addir, a Jewish dirge.
1915 – 1918
Weill receives private lessons from Albert Bing, Kapellmeister (musical director) at the local Herzogliches Hoftheater

April 1918 -
July 1919
Studies at the conservatoire (e.g. composition taught by Engelbert Humperdinck) and the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. Weill drops out of university and returns to Dessau.

Since the end of August 1919
Accompanist at the Dessau-based Friedrich-Theater.
December 1919 -
May 1920
Kapellmeister (musical director) at the newly foanded Stadttheater Lüdenscheid.
1921 – 1923
Weill returns to Berlin and becomes a student of the master class of Ferrucio Busoni, who was considered one of the most prominent and influential composers of the early 20th century by the young generation of his time.

Weill meets the famous expressionist dramatist Georg Kaiser. At his house he encounters Lotte Lenya.

Weill moves in (together) with Lotte Lenya.
Marriage of Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weill. On 27 March, Weill's first opera The Protagonist, based on a libretto by Georg Kaiser, debuts at the Staatsoper Dresden.

In search for a suitable libretto, Weill first work-related encounter with Bertolt Brecht takes place at the end of April. The first joint outcome of this collaboration is the Mahagonny Songspiel, whose premiere at the festival in Baden-Baden causes a scandal.

May 1928
Along with Lotte Lenya, Brecht and Helene Weigel, Weill travels to the French Rivera. Large parts of The Three Penny Opera, which premiers 31 August at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, are developed during this time. The audience back then has no idea that they are witnessing the biggest theatrical success of the 20th century.

The collaboration with Brecht continues, e.g. in Happy End, Das Berliner Requiem, Der Lindberghflug and the opera Rise and Fall of the City ofMahagonny.

The opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny premieres in Leipzig on 9 March and becomes one of biggest theatre scandals of the Weimar Republic. During the premiere, organized hecklings take place..

Final break-up of Weill's and Brecht's collaboration.
Weill purchases a house and moves to the Berlin suburb of Kleinmachnow. During the performance of, Rise and Fall of the city of Mahagonny in Vienna, Lotte Lenya encounters the singer Otto Pasetti and decides to live together with him.

After repeated attacks by the Nazi press and directed protest campaigns, Weill leaves Germany on 21 March and emigrates to France. The divorce from Lotte Lenya becomes legally valid.

Beginning collaboration with Max Reinhardt and Franz Werfel on the biblical drama Eternal Road, which is scheduled to premiere in New York.

On 4 September, along with Lotte Lenya, Weill leaves Europe taking the ship Majestic towards the United States of America, in order to attend rehearsals of Eternal Road in New York. Weill and Lotte Lenya will remain in the USA and finally become citizens of this country.

Weill's first American Broadway musical Johnny Johnson debuts on 19 November. His music wins widespread recognition.

On 7 January, after numerous delays, the monumental biblical drama Eternal Road premieres. Twelve days later, Weill and Lotte Lenya get married for the second time.

While working on the musical Lady in the Dark, Weill teams up with the poet Moss Hart and composer Ira Gerschwin, brother of composer George Gershwin..

Lady in the Dark debuts on 23 January, starring Gertrude Lawrence. Counting 467 shows, the musical becomes a huge success on Broadway and is later made into a film by Hollywood.

Weill's musical One Touch of Venus is another big Broadway success with 567 shows. Two years later, it's made into a film by Hollywood.

Working on the opera Street Scene, which debuts in New York on 9 January.

Collaboration with the the poet Maxwell Anderson while working on Weill's last completed dramatic work, Lost in the Stars, which debuts on 30 October.

Weill plans and begins work on a musical version of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.

Kurt Weill dies on 3 April, after being hospitalized at the Flower Hospital in New York for two weeks,.


© Roßdeutscher & Bartel GmbH, Leipzig, 2019