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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kurt Weill, L:ove Song, , , Mack The Knife, , , The Three Penny Opera   

    A SINGULAR COMPOSER, A TWO-TIMING WIFE, AND A THREE PENNY OPERA 

    “THE ROMANCE of Kurt Weill, the Jewish cantor’s son, and Lotte Lenya, the Viennese coachman’s daughter, changed the history of Western music. Their work on The Three Penny Opera provides a knowing insight into their relationship: Weill was the creator whose work was backstage, unseen. Lenya was the performer who put the work into view. They heard the same unique music, but he gave it form while she gave it life.”
    –from the cover flap of LOVE SONG, by Ethan Mordden

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    If you like a bargain and biographies, I’ve just read a book I’m about to tell you about, titled LOVE SONG. The “bargain” is hinted at in the subtitle: THE LIVES OF KURT WEILL AND LOTTE LENYA — a double biography, two lives for the price of one. If you’re acquainted with the music of Kurt Weill and the mystique of Lotte Lenya, an individual biography of either would be a bargain at twice  – nay, thrice — the price.

    Kurt Weill was born in Germany in March 1900. As a young man (according to Mordden), “Music was his only interest, in total immersion.” He later fled the Nazi takeover and came to New York, U.S.A., in September, 1935. That month is notable for its namesake song, which may be the most unforgettable of his many memorable compositions:

    Lotte Lenya, twice-married to Weill and many times in bed with other men, was born in Vienna in 1898 and outlived her husband by 31 years. Quoting from the book, “Lenya was quick to adapt to her audience: a performer, but a warm and giving one, quickly intimate with anyone she liked….she could play everything from the merrily heartless Jenny of The Threepenny Opera to the helplessly coquettish Frau Schneider of Cabaret.” Here she sings one of my favorite Weill songs:

    I wish I could give you a front row seat at the real-life opera that is the LOVE SONG of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, for it is not only a love story, but an adventure and a 20th century history ranging from early success in Weimar Germany, escape from war-torn Europe, and finding the fulfillment in America which was cut short in their native land….but I could not begin to get you as caught up in their story as this “meticulously researched and detailed” book does. If you love the music of Kurt Weill, you will love this biography.

    I would love to post clips of such Weill classics as Speak Low, This Is New, and To Love You And To Lose You, but that would perhaps be too much of a good thing….so I’ll bring down the curtain with this Bobby Darin hit from The Three Penny Opera which my fellow seniors will well remember (assuming your memory is sharp):

     

     

     
    • obbverse 12:13 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Era defining, Mack the Knife. Not bad for a song written thirty years and a Second World War earlier. In the parlance of the day- killer track.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:25 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Not bad, indeed….and I dig your “killer track” juxtaposition with regard to MACK THE KNIFE.

        Like

    • calmkate 1:06 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      sorry I must be too young … or the memory is shot, don’t remember any of this!
      But totally love Mack the knife 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 7:06 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Weill I have heard of, but not Lotte Lenya, and I do know the songs and of course Bobby Darin. Great post. I’m sure you could write more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:48 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Ashley. I try to hold my posts to a reasonable length despite the temptation to keep going, as I realize that most of my followers probably have many blogs to follow, but only limited time….and if I go overboard, they may lose interest.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rivergirl 9:17 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, Bobby Darin. Lost too soon..

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:41 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Lost too soon….and forgotten too fast (but not by those who appreciated what a great talent he was).

        Like

    • equipsblog 10:36 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I not only remember the song, I saw Sting play Mac the Knife in Three Penny Opera at (I think) the National Theater in Washington, DC.

      Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 11:56 am on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      For some reason I know the September song. My parents liked Bobby Darin so I know Mack the Knife and Beyond the Sea.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger 2:19 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I remember a Lenya vinyl album that my parents had. If I recall it correctly, she’s on the cover in a provocative pose, possibly with a cigarette in hand.

      Hello there. Bye till next time.

      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:01 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        She lived to age 83 despite smoking and sexual promiscuity, so she must have had good Genes…and probably a lot of Toms, Dicks and Harrys, too.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Carmen 2:55 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Bobby Darin was a little before my time but I always like to hear music from that era. Hope things are well with you, mistermuse. Our province has declared an Emergency today and we are now limited to groups of five people; essential businesses/stores open but keeping the 6 ft. Distance in place. So far, we’ve not had a problem with self-isolation as we have lots of projects on the go! I’ll tell ya, watching the grandchildren cavort out on the lawn is preferable to cleaning up inside after they leave!
      And of course one can always listen to all sorts of hits from lovely blogs. . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:18 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Hi, Carmen — long time, no see. Good to hear from you again, and glad that you’re dealing well with the pandemic. I’m doing the same, but there’s no avoiding having to go to the store and/or pharmacy occasionally. Using hand sanitizer or wearing vinyl gloves while shopping helps, but social distancing is impossible in a crowded store, and lately it’s been crowded even at 7 a.m. (I’d go earlier, but I’d have to break in, since they don’t open until 7). 😉

        Like

    • annieasksyou 2:59 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      What a nostalgia trip this was! Haven’t thought about Bobby Darin for a while, but this was a welcome reminder.

      And for the first time, I was struck by the reference to “Miss Lotte Lenya” in Mack the Knife. That was like finding a jigsaw puzzle piece and placing it in its intended home.

      Thank you, mistermuse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:39 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I’m pleased that you enjoyed the post, Annie. Bobby Darin was one of my favorites back in the day, but Lotte Lenya was little more than a name to me until I read the book LOVE SONG and listened to her sing. I highly recommend the book if you’re interested.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Ostertag 8:42 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Many years ago I found a 4 LP set of the original Berlin production of 3 Penny with Miss Lotta in German. And huge program booklet with the English translation and pictures describing the production and the times. What a treasure.
      Weill was a musical genius. His work here in America is some of the best to ever appear on stage. September Song etc..
      Lotta never got as big here as in Germany, but she never got to be one of the most memorable James Bond villians.
      I will have to look the book up.
      PS: As much as I liked the Darin rendition of Mack, my favorite is the Louis Armstrong’s.
      Stay Healthy

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:29 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      There is a discography at the end of the book LOVE SONG which lists a 1930 Ultraphon 78 rpm set of Die Dreigroschenoper (The Three Penny Opera) wherein “Lenya sings not only her opening-night role of Jenny but also Polly and Lucy and even gets a crack at the Moritat. Most listeners learned these readings from reissues by Telefunken on 78 and LP” — which is apparently what you are fortunate enough to have.

      Weill was indeed a musical genius. I hope you can find the book (published in 2012 by St. Martin’s Press), because I’m sure you would find it immensely interesting.

      Thanks for the comment, and you stay healthy as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eliza 10:31 am on March 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for sharing

      Take care of yourself

      Love, light and glitter

      Like

    • Elizabeth 4:32 pm on March 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      My grandson learned “Mack the Knife” from me when he was about two. He sang it joyfully.”Look out old Mack is back.” My daughter finally heard the words and was duly appalled that I had taught him such a gory song.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:38 pm on March 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        How times have changed, Elizabeth — nowadays, that song wouldn’t appall anyone, except maybe the younger generation who would be appalled at how “outdated” it is.

        Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 8:01 am on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for some lovely old songs, and info on the writers/performers that I did not know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 7:03 pm on April 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for 2 things:
      1) for the book recommendation, a subject I’ve been long curious about but have made no effort to research; and
      2) for posting Mack the Knife.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:06 pm on April 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I’m pleased to recommend the book because, although I was fairly familiar with Kurt Weill and his work, I too was curious was about Lotte Lenya and the relationship between them. It’s a fascinating story. As for Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin’s version is my favorite, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • America On Coffee 9:15 am on April 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent review and show!

      Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 7:09 pm on April 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Kurt Weill is one of my very favorite composers – along with Brecht…geniuses. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:10 pm on April 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Weill and Brecht were indeed musical geniuses, but their relationship hit some sour notes, mainly because of Brecht (according to LOVE SONG, the book mentioned in my post). Nonetheless, they made beautiful music together.

        Like

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: East of the Sun, , , Kurt Weill, , , , , , Westwind,   

    EAST MEETS WEST DAY 

    EAST IS EAST, AND WEST IS WEST, AND NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. –Rudyard Kipling

    The above quote notwithstanding, it’s not too late if you want to meet Twain. Forget East/West, and return to the site of my previous post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP), where Twain still lives. I could quibble that you should have met him there then, but I am magnanimous enough to forgive those of you who didn’t read that post (so long as you promise never to let it happen again).

    Be that as it may, this is April — April 24th, to be exact, which just happens to be East Meets West Day, which just happens to give me an excuse to engross you with some of my favorite East and/or West songs, such as this old standard by an old favorite:

    Keely Smith (born Dorothy Keely) died four months ago at age 89, one of the best (though underappreciated) female vocalists of the 1950s-60s.

    Next, we change directions for this Kurt Weill classic from the 1943 musical ONE TOUCH OF VENUS:

    Let us end, fittingly, with WEST END BLUES by Louis Armstrong, one of the all-time great recordings in jazz history:

    That performance was recorded in 1928; 90 years later, you can travel far and wide, east and west, and never the same shall meet.

     

     
    • Garfield Hug 1:21 am on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I am curious too as to how the meeting with N Korea will pan out?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:56 am on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        You’re really going East — Far East — with that one, G.H.! Though your question is a bit off-subject with the theme of this post, I’ll venture to predict that if ‘Past is prologue,’ N. Korea will agree to, but not keep, a treaty. Herbert Hoover wasn’t the greatest of American Presidents, but he wisely said, “Peace is not made at the council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Garfield Hug 12:59 pm on April 24, 2018 Permalink

          Yes, I did digress! But thanks for sharing the info you gave. I strayed as the title of your post reminded me of how the west as in Trump is planning to meet eastern Asia’s N Korea Kim. 😊

          Liked by 2 people

        • mistermuse 4:13 pm on April 24, 2018 Permalink

          No problem, G.H.! If “digression is the better part of valor,” who am I to say you stray? Unfortunately, the old saying is “discretion” (not “digression”) is the better part of valor” — but I digress. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 1:53 pm on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Mr. Kipling also assured us that…
      “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
      When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth.”

      Sorry to hear about the passing of Keely Smith. She was a great singer. And, here’s her take on the subject.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 5:35 pm on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        As you may know, Don, “Sing, Sing, Sing” was a huge hit for Benny Goodman’s big band in 1937 and was one of the songs which helped establish him as the “King of Swing” in the Swing era. Interestingly, the song was written by Louis Prima, Keely Smith’s first husband, who famously partnered with her professionally in the 1950s.

        Liked by 1 person

    • dunelight 6:29 pm on April 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Keely Smith..I love her. What a dream to have seen her in Vegas. She had killer timing as a comedienne. I can watch her play off Louis Prima for days.

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Edgar Guest, , Kurt Weill, , ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, , , ,   

    BE MY GUEST 

    I’d rather be a great bad poet than a bad good poet. –Ogden Nash

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Today is the birthday, not of Ogden Nash, but of Edgar Guest (Aug. 20, 1881). And who, you might ask, was Mr. Guest, and why is he my special Guest for this post? (Sorry about that, but to paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a pun I didn’t like.) Though he is all but forgotten today, in his day Guest was a poet so popular that he was known as the People’s Poet. Unfortunately for him, this lofty regard was not shared by more discriminating appraisers such as Dorothy Parker, who is reported to have declared:

    I’d rather flunk my Wassermann test*
    than read a poem by Edgar Guest.”

    *a test for syphilis

    Were his poems really that bad? Here are a few examples; you be the judge:

    Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
    Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ living in it.
    –from his most famous poem, titled “Home”

    When you’re up against a trouble,
    Meet it squarely, face to face,
    Lift your chin, and set your shoulders,
    Plant your feet and take a brace.
    –from “See It Through”

    Now, I’m not saying I’d rather flunk a syphilis test than read a poem by Edgar Guest, but August 18 was/is BAD POETRY DAY, and one wonders why that date was chosen rather than August 20, which would have coincided perfectly with the birth date of the critics’ poetaster child for BAD POETRY DAY. Of course, it’s possible there are worse poets than Guest, so perhaps neglected candidates for the honor would have raised a stink (as opposed to raising a stinker, like the parents of a certain GOP candidate for President).

    But I digress (the devil made me do it). Back on message, your humble host is more than capable of vying for the honor; as proof, he submits the following for your disapproval:

    RAINED ALL NIGHT THE DAY I LEFT

    It was a dark and stormy night
    On the day I left to stay.
    The sun was shining brightly
    On yon shadows afar away.

    I be starting on a journey
    Just as soon as I know where.
    I’ve packed a lot of nothing
    To unpack when I get there.

    They say the spirit’s willing,
    But the flesh is weak as sin;
    The former is my future —
    The latter is where I’ve been.

    So come, sweet spirit, raise me
    From the heap o’ living dead.
    I surrender — set me free from
    My behind to look ahead.

    And should I meet up with trouble,
    I’ll meet it squarely and not duck;
    I’ll shoulder my chin, a face lift face,
    And just show all-around pluck.

    And if that doesn’t take me
    Beyond that unbending bend,
    I’ll just declare this is where
    Both journey and poem end.

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Back to Mr. Nash. I opened this opus with his “great bad poet/bad good poet” quote. There was a method to my badness: he was America’s preeminent writer of humorous light verse from 1931 until his death in 1971, a favorite of mine, and, apropos to this post’s focus on an August 18-20 time frame, he was born Aug. 19 (1902). So Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash — a wit as a light versifier and, I might add, no twit as a lyricist; witness his words to this tune composed by Kurt Weill, as sung by Eileen Wilson (lip synced by Ava Gardner) and Dick Haymes in the 1948 Hollywooden film version of the play ONE TOUCH OF VENUS:

     

     

     
    • renxkyoko 12:11 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I like it.

      I like poems that are direct and to the point, thus , easy to understand and appreciate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • painkills2 12:20 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Poetry is in the eye of the beholder. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michaeline Montezinos 12:31 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I also like your poem. It reminds me of the one I wrote as Artemus Bumpkin on SWI.

      Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 2:41 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think people can be snobs about poetry like they can about art. If you like something, does it matter if the critics think it is good or not?
      I like your poem, and you’re amusing as always. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:07 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Many thanks (to all four of you) for your comments. My take on the excellent points about the kinds of poetry you (or anyone, for that matter) like and poetry being “in the eye of the beholder,” is that this is TRUE OF MANY THINGS, but is internalized by too few people. Being unable to accept and appreciate that we all see things from our own vantage point (based on our upbringing, culture, religion, maturity, etc.) is, in my opinion, the primary reason why this is such a violent, “my way or the highway” world. Antagonism is no substitute for empathy and gets us nowhere but where we are. We need to get to a better place.

        Liked by 2 people

    • linnetmoss 7:45 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “Set me free from my behind”? I am going to be laughing all day over this one. I also like “Hollywooden.” But Dick Haymes actually had a good voice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:21 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It may be hard to believe now, but in the 1940s, Dick Haymes was Frank Sinatra’s biggest rival as the bobbysoxers’ favorite crooner. In my opinion, Haymes had a better voice than Sinatra at that time, although of course Frank went on to reach the heights, while Haymes slid into near-oblivion. His story is a sad one in many ways, and makes for interesting reading for anyone interested.

      Like

    • Cynthia Jobin 9:12 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like that particular dark and stormy night—of all dark and stormy nights—was a most auspicious one, and whether you have a bandage or a banjo on your knee in future, things are looking good for your liberation from your behind. And since your poem is a delight, neitherr I nor Susannah will cry for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:54 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve always liked Stephen Foster’s songs such as OH! SUSANNA (from which I borrowed the title of my poem), CAMPTOWN RACES, BEAUTIFUL DREAMER and JEANIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR. For those who aren’t familiar with OH! SUSANNA, it goes like this:

      Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach 12:05 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think your poem is too clever to qualify as bad. 🙂 Loved it!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 12:13 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you (I only hope Stephen Foster isn’t turning over in his grave)!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Don Frankel 6:43 pm on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I like the way Guest sets his chin up. It would make it real easy to land a left hook or a right cross or both. He may not be the worst poet but he’s got to be pretty close.

      Is Dick Haymes trying to sound like Sinatra or is that his natural voice? I know from comments Sinatra made that he couldn’t stand the guy.

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:00 pm on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Don, that Haymes’ natural voice, but I think he shows it to better effect in the DON’T THROW COLD WATER ON THE FLAME OF LOVE clip in my previous post (SAY WHAT AGAIN?).
      Also, both his voice and his acting ability are better displayed in the 1945 version of the film STATE FAIR, with great Rodgers and Hammerstein songs like IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING and IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING.

      Like

    • BroadBlogs 9:15 pm on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Happy birthday to Ogden Nash! I say great bad poets have a lot of soul.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:47 pm on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      His body of work isn’t bad either! 🙂

      Like

    • arekhill1 12:26 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Both my parents would quote Guest when Mom made one of her cherry pies. “As I wend my way to Heaven, I’ll be full of cherry pie,” they would laugh between forkfuls. Didn’t make me like them any better, but I didn’t let it destroy my taste for cherry pie.

      Like

    • mistermuse 8:34 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Neither of my parents had any interest in poetry, so I wasn’t subjected to similar experiences at an early age. If there’s a creative writing gene in my family background, it must come from my mother’s Irish ancestors.

      Like

  • mistermuse 7:38 pm on September 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dodsworth, , Knickerbocker Holiday, Kurt Weill, , , , Walter Huston   

    SEPTEMBER SONG 

    He wasn’t born on this day, and he didn’t die on this day — or even in this month. But I always associate this month with Walter Huston because of a long-owned 78 rpm record of SEPTEMBER SONG:

    Walter Huston was an actor, not a singer, but his rendition of SEPTEMBER SONG is a definitive example  (Jimmy Durante being another) of the ability to put over a song without having much of a voice. Here you sense a man who has lived the song, and — especially if you’re of a certain age — you find yourself (to paraphrase the words of a Cole Porter song) knowing all too well what they mean….

    And what an actor he was. If I could recommend just one of his many films, it would be the 1936 classic DODSWORTH, for which both he and the movie received Academy Award nominations. But he is probably best remembered for his role in THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, directed by his son, John (referenced in my July 29 post BEHIND THE SCENES). Here’s one of my favorite scenes:

    SEPTEMBER SONG was composed by Kurt Weill for the 1938 stage show starring Walter Huston, KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY. Weill’s wife was Austrian-born actress and singer, Lotte Lenya; they had immigrated to America several years earlier. Here is her recording of the song:

     
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