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paul secor

The Music of Kurt Well Returns to Germany

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I had no idea that he was so ignored there for so long.

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:-) one very simple reason for his earlier works being more popular in Germany than the later ones is that the lyrics are in German rather than in English (and they're good)... we did sing Mack the Knife in school with some regularity (which means the composer clearly isn't forgotten), but when we sang stuff in English (which didn't happen often), it usually was Lennon/McCartney rather than Weill. So I would say: The later works are comparatively low profile in Germany, but this is partly due the fact that the early works are high profile. I'd be surprised if September Song was as well-known to the general US population as Mack the Knife is to the German one (today).

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59 minutes ago, Niko said:

 I'd be surprised if September Song was as well-known to the general US population as Mack the Knife is to the German one (today).

Me too. Compared to what "Mäckie Messer" still is over here, September Song is certain to be just nowhere. :lol:

All in all your explanation nails it.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Ok, you're both saying that all/most of the pre-American works are still celebrated locally as German Treaures? Is the article then wrong about that?

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"German Treasures" may be a somewhat stilted way of describing it, but the basic fact is that Weill's earlier (pre-emigration) works (particularly his co-works with Bert Brecht) have been present all along throughout the decades in various incarnations and have always had their place, the Three Penny Opera and "Mackie Messer" being by far the best known, of course, but Mahagonny and others are well-known quantities among the target group of such works too.

In short, IMO the article is skewed in this respect. His US works are "obscure" over here for sure, but given how his earlier works have been perceived and presented for decades now, his U.S. works more or less come from a "different Weill" to the German (or European?) audience and - probably unfortunately - were lumped in with "Broadway" productions at large.

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I would also generally disagree with the notion that Weill and his music are unknown over here ... Brecht is still huge (and would be immense if not for his heirs that are extremely strict with allowing productions of his plays etc), and Weill is closely linked with some of his finest and most famous work.

There was also a pretty nice movie made on Weill (including his US exile) in which plenty of German pop (in the widest sense) musicians appeared, as well as Willem Breuker (r.i.p.) and Milva and others. If there was need for unearthing, I guess that has been going on for at least two or three decades by now.

Me being Swiss, we sang all those dreadfully lame Lennon/Macca arrangements in school, too, but no Weill, yet I guess most any high school kid with some interest in music and theatre would eventually stumble over Weill and/or Brecht-Weill.

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Weill has always been present in our country - be it in theaters, recordings or concerts - even with younger generations.
Or to put it this way: His music was never lost in the stars above Germany.. 

But there is another one whose cultural heritage needs to be reevaluated und rediscovered: Eisler!

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