Act 3: Mack the Knife on Broadway

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Composer Marc Blitzstein was a man who straddled many genres, from classical to Broadway. He could make text and music marry each other in simple and glorious ways. We’ll hear Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and Lotte Lenya in this episode, about Blitzstein’s brilliant adaptation of Threepenny Opera.

lenyaBlitzstein’s own songwriting was remarkably focussed and spare – pared down to the most basic elements – yet with fiery results. One of the highlights of this episode is Marc’s friend Paul Robeson, singing “Purest Kind of a Guy.”

Joshua Schmidt wrote, “How many of us nowadays are willing to put work out into the world in the teeth of forces that will quash and censor it? Who in modern American music and theatrical history offers a greater example of such bravery than Blitzstein?”

 

Playlist – Some Songs and The Threepenny Opera

Marc Blitzstein, arr. Stephen Sondheim
1. Never Get Lost
Dawn Upshaw
Electra Nonesuch 79345-2

Kurt Weill
2. Threepenny Prologue
1954 Orig. Broadway Cast
Decca Broadway – 012 159 463-2

Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht (Blitzstein adaptation); arr. Louis Armstrong/Turk Murphy
3. Mack the Knife (Session Takes from The Threepenny Opera)
Lotte Lenya, Eric Bentley, George Tabori, Instrumental Ensemble, Jack Gilford, Louis Armstrong & His All Stars, Ludwig Lewisohn, Marc Blitzstein, Maurice Levine & Turk Murphy
Sony Classical – MHK 60647

Marc Blitzstein, arr David Robbins
4. The Cradle Will Rock (finale)
Steven Tyler;Henry Stram;Tim Jerome
RCA Victor 09026-63577-2

Marc Blitzstein
5. Summer Weather
Original 1985 Cast (The Acting Company) & Patti LuPone
JAY Records JAY 1300 (CD, LP)

Marc Blitzstein
6. Quartet For Strings: ‘Italian’ mvt 4. Lento
Del Sol Quartet
OM 1017-2 (2009)

Marc Blitzstein
7. The Purest Kind of Guy (Joe’s Birthday Song)
Paul Robeson
Sony BMG Music 1997 re-release

satchmoMarc Blitzstein
8. Zipperfly
William Sharp, baritone; Steven Blier, piano
Koch CD 6644

Marc Blitzstein
9. I Wish It So
Dawn Upshaw
Electra Nonesuch 79345-2

Marc Blitzstein
10. Rose Song
William Sharp, baritone; Steven Blier, piano
Koch CD 6644

english traditional
11. The Countryman’s Joy
The City Waites
Naxos 8557672

Kurt Weill
12. Moritat von Mackie Messer
Ensemble Modern;HK Gruber;Max Raabe
BMG Classics – 74321 66133 2

Kurt Weill
13. Mack the Knife
14. Useless Song
15. Instead-Of Song
16. Pirate Jenny (sung by Lotte Lenya)
1954 Orig. Broadway Cast
Decca Broadway – 012 159 463-2

Marc Blitzstein
17. Blues
William Sharp, baritone; Steven Blier, piano
Koch CD 6644

Kurt Weill, arr. Louis Armstrong
18. Satchmo plays Mack the Knife
Louis Armstrong
CBS 88079

nina

Kurt Weill, arr. Bobby Darin
19. Mack the Knife
Bobby Darin
Warner 9-27606-2

Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht (Blitzstein adaptation)
20. Mack the Knife (Ella live in 1966)
Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington Orchestra & Jimmy Jones Trio
Eagle Vision – EREDV431

Bob Dylan
21. When the Ship Comes In
Bob Dylan
Columbia COL CD 32021

Kurt Weill
22. Pirate Jenny
Nina Simone
Philips 822 846-2

Kurt Weill
23. Tango Ballad
1954 Orig. Broadway Cast
Decca Broadway – 012 159 463-2

Marc Blitzstein
24. Art for Art’s Sake
Randle Mell
JAY Records JAY 1300 (CD, LP)

Kurt Weill, arr Turk Murphy & Louis Armstrong
25. Mack the Knife
Louis Armstrong
CBS 88079

Steve Reich. The Desert Music.
26. First Movement (Fast).
Chorus of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Michael Tilson Thomas & William Carlos Williams.
Nonesuch Records 79101

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  1. Pingback: OVERVIEW: Rediscovering Marc Blitzstein - Radio GuyLive

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