From Library Journal
Schebera, an authority on the culture of the Weimar Republic and German American composer Kurt Weill, here presents an updated version of his biography first published in German. New material on the composer continues to surface, and some of this material is incorporated here. Emphasizing musical aspects rather than Weill's personal life, Schebera hopes this work will aid in what he sees as an ongoing reevaluation of Weill's career and will broaden appreciation for Weill as much more than just the composer of "Mack the Knife." Schebera makes wonderful use of archival illustrations: concert programs, advertisements, photos, even a few record labels from the Twenties and Thirties. This is a scholarly work, but the appealing subject, complete with the drama of Nazi persecution and flight from prewar Germany, makes it a good choice for most music collections. Smaller collections may be content with Ronald Taylor's Kurt Weill: Composer in a Divided World (Northeastern Univ. Pr., 1992), another fine biography of Weill.?James E. Ross, Seattle P.L.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Kurt Weill was a significant trendsetter in dramatic music, virtually creating the popular musical drama whose music supports dialogue and plot. He studied music first with his father, a Jewish cantor, then in Berlin with the pianist-composer Busoni. He wrote songs, choral works, chamber music, and symphonies before turning to the theater and becoming, eventually, world-famous for his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, especially The Threepenny Opera
and the singspiel, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
, which provoked riots at its premier. His wife, Lotte Lenya, starred in most of his productions. Fleeing the Nazis, Weill came to the U.S. in 1935 and collaborated with Maxwell Anderson (e.g., Knickerbocker Holiday
with its "September Song," and Lost in the Stars
) and with Moss Hart and Ira Gershwin (Lady in the Dark
, which gave Weill financial independence). Profusely illustrated with photographs, playbills, and sheet music art, Schebera's biography seems definitive and well-rounded as it discusses all of Weill's important musical and dramatic achievements. Alan Hirsch