When I think of the legendary atmosphere of 1920s Berlin, Kurt Weill’s music echoes in my head – as sung by his then-wife Lotte Lenya. The Three Penny Opera, Mahagonny, and his other German works are among my favorite 20th century musicals. Against the rising Nazi threat, they defy and also create a brilliant counter-culture.
Then Weill and Lenya, driven out of Germany, became a force in American popular music. His American musical theater successes include Lady in the Dark (collaborators Moss Hart and Ira Gershwin) and One Touch of Venus (with collaborators S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash). An amazing body of work!
Like so many composers of the era, Weill’s music had great appeal for a wide audience, not at all limited by his ethnic background. Nevertheless, his roots were Jewish and he appears to have remained loyal to them, whatever his actual religious beliefs. Weill’s father was a cantor. Further, he worked for Zionism and Jewish relief causes during World War II. (Note: Weill’s Berlin collaborator Bertolt Brecht and his wife, singer Lotte Lenya, were not Jewish.)
Source: Kurt Weill Foundation