Monday, March 2, 2009
Happy Birthday, KW
I didn't realize it until I heard it on the radio just now, but today is Kurt Weill's 109th birthday. He is one of my favorite composers. A cantor's son, he studied composition with Busoni, wrote many great songs, not to mention Die Dreigroschen Oper, and married Lotte Lenya twice. Weill died when he was 50- not old by today's standards- in 1950. Perhaps Weill alone of all the German emigres became an American artist- he embraced American musical theatre in a way that Mann did not embrace the novel, for example. And his work still resonates; not just Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," but Teresa Stratas' interpretation of "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and Elvis Costello's "Lost in the Stars." Not everyone likes Weill, but I think he's unfairly neglected. Have you ever heard Walter Huston sing "Venus and Mars" from Knickbocker Holiday? Or Lenya herself sing "Surabaya Johnny"? Or Mary Martin sing "It's Him"?