Kurt Weill: a Song Composer in Wartime with Three Recitals of Selected Works of Mozart, Strauss, Bach, Schubert, and Others
Description: During World War II the composer Kurt Weill was in America writing for the Broadway stage. On August 27, 1943, he became an American citizen and was eager to volunteer his talent to the American war effort. Among his many wartime musical contributions are fourteen songs, all with war-related texts, which can be divided into three distinct groups: the American propaganda songs (8), the German propaganda songs (2), and the Walt Whitman songs (4). It is the purpose of this paper to present a comparative analysis of a representative group of these war songs (two from each group) in order to illustrate Weill's musical versatility. The American propaganda songs were written in a purely popular song style; sung by Broadway actors; directed toward an American audience; with texts by the Broadway lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and the Hollywood movie executive Howard Dietz. The German propaganda songs were written in a cabaret song style; sung in German by Weill's wife, Lotte Lenya; directed toward a German audience behind enemy lines; with texts by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht and the German cabaret writer Walter Mehring. The Four Walt Whitman Songs were written in a classical art song style; sung by classically trained singers; directed toward a general audience; with texts by the nineteenth-century American poet Walt Whitman. After an initial discussion of Weill's early musical training and career in Europe, his exile from Germany, his reception in America, and his contributions to the American war effort, each group of war songs is analyzed musically, textually, vocally, in reference to the audience to whom it was directed, and with regards to vocal performance practice. Comparisons and conclusions are then drawn. Kurt Weill's war songs are valuable for musical study, both in terms of examining his ability to write equally well in various ...
Date: August 1993
Creator: Wyatt, Susan Beth Masters
Partner: UNT Libraries