Sunday, September 26, 2010

Muses in my midst III

(Kurt Weill in the late 1920s.)

Of course, in my pantheon I can still Charleston, at least mentally, to Gershwin's jazzy syncopations, ever refresh myself from the endless well of Kern and Rodgers melodies, and nibble on Sondheim's cerebral bon bons. But the one composer who stands on the highest pedestal is Herr Kurt Weill.  He was the 20th century's magnificent musical chameleon. Like Shakespeare, he graced his collaborators and sources with imperishable greatness. In Germany, working with Bertolt Brecht, he defined Weimar decadence by reformulating American jazz styles. When the Nazis forced him to U.S. shores, he outdid the Broadway tunesmiths at their own game with songs of undying longing and romance, i.e. "Speak Low" and "September Song." In what I consider to be his greatest score, "Lady in the Dark," he managed to musicalize a tortured subconscious mind in three miniature dream operas. If you care to sip from his theatrical ambrosia, listen to radio adaptations of the exquisite "Lady in the Dark," with Gertrude Lawrence singing "My Ship," and "Knickerbocker Holiday," including Walter Huston's iconic "September Song," at

No comments:

Post a Comment