This is the story of a great musician who embraced all the colorfulness of American life. Composer Marc Blitzstein has been largely forgotten, but in the 1930s he was famous for his political musical, The Cradle Will Rock. In the 1940s he was famous again for his Airborne Symphony, written in London during the war. And in the 1950s he made headlines once more, this time for his brilliantly funny and sarcastic adaptation of Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera. And yet, he is virtually unknown today.
Jewish, gay, and a stubborn political activist, he was on the margins of the arts world in his lifetime. Although championed by Leonard Bernstein, he had trouble getting his career off the ground, and many of his musicals failed after a few performances. And his death was so tragic that it haunted his legacy for decades. This radio feature aims to celebrate his life with humor, storytelling, and vintage audio, as a new generation discovers his music. Join pianist Guy Livingston for four feature-length episodes, as he recounts the astonishing musical adventures of an American original, Marc Blitzstein.
“The Cradle That Rocked: Rediscovering Marc Blitzstein” was hosted and directed by pianist Guy Livingston. This four-part series was produced for Concertzender Radio, Utrecht, The Netherlands; and is distributed by the WFMT Radio Network, Chicago. Funding for this project provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. New York, New York. Administrative support by the Transatlantic Foundation for Music and Art. Sound design by Erik Hense. Script editing by Hugh Livingston and Julien Clancy.
• conductor John Mauceri
• Stephen Davis, Marc’s nephew
• opera expert Fred Plotkin
• pianist Steven Blier
• Sara Fishko, host of “The Fishko Files” on WNYC
• composer William Bolcom
• Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein.
Special thanks to:
• Studs Terkel Radio Archive;
• Metropolitan Opera Archives;
• WOTH studios, The Netherlands;
• New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Music Division;
• At KWF: Elizabeth Blaufox, Dave Stein, and Brady Sansone;
• At WFMT: Tony Macaluso, Heather McDougall, and Sarah Zwinklis;
• Christopher Davis, Sem de Jong, Aletta Becker, New World Records, and Kelly Voigt and Naxos Recordings.
For distribution enquiries, contact the WFMT Radio Network