Keys of Change: Lenya & Weill

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Tonight’s show revolves around Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weill, who were not overtly political in their public lives, but were both intimately linked to social issues due to their closeness to Bertolt Brecht and to the historical events they experienced – either close or from afar. We’ll hear Lenya reciting and singing lyrics by Brecht, and music from Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Threepenny Opera, City of Mahagonny, and Knickerbocker Holiday. My two guests are both opera experts: Fred Plotkin, longtime commentator for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and John Mauceri, multifaceted conductor and fellow Yalie.

Political lives, musical lives. A series on ten American musicians whose work was/is profoundly influenced by the forces of politics. This series grew out of a conversation I had a few years ago with composer, pianist, and improviser Donal Fox. Hence the inspiration for “Keys of Change.”

AMERICAN HIGHWAYS # 110 KEYS OF CHANGE – departing from Mahagonny

Theme Music 0.1
Charles Ives, arr William Schuman
Variations on America
The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy
RCA Red Seal – SB 6798

Theme Music 0.2
Donal Fox
The Scream
Guy Livingston, piano
WERGO 6649-2

Kurt Weill, text by Bertolt Brecht
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny:
1. Gesucht Werden Leokadja Begbick
6. Damals Kam Unter Anderen
7. Heraus, Ihr Schönen
8. Ach, Bedenken Sie [Lenya]
NDR Symphony Orchestra & Chorus Hamburg
M2K 77341

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Marriage of Figaro “Gente, Gente, All’armi”
James Levine, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with Kiri Te Kanawa, Dawn Upshaw, Ferrucio Furlanetto
Deutsch Grammophon 431619-2

Ludwig van Beethoven
Fidelio, Op 72: “Gott! Welch’ Dunkel hier!”
James McCracken, Lorin Maazel, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Decca 448 104-2

Music by Kurt Weill, words by Bertolt Brecht/Marc Blitzstein
The Threepenny Opera: Ballad of Mack the Knife
Lotte Lenya, singer
Decca Broadway 012 159 463-2

Kurt Weill
Beat! Beat! Drums! (excerpt)
Helen Hayes, speaker; with Leroy Sheilds
GEMM CDS 9294

Kurt Weill
Schickelgruber
Teresa Stratas, soprano; Richard Woitach, piano
Rhino Entertainment/Nonesuch 79019-2

Kurt Weill
How can you tell an American?” from Knickerbocker Holiday
Lotte Lenya
Bear Family Records BCD 16019

Kurt Weill
Marching Song/Second act finale/OneTouch of Alchemy/All Hail the Political Honeymoon: from Knickerbocker Holiday.
Maurice Abravanel, Walter Huston and Chorus
GEMM CDS 9294 Disc 1

Kurt Weill
Street scene: Overture and “Lonely House
Dawn Upshaw & David Zinman
NONESUCH 79458-2

Leonard Bernstein
Overture to Candide
Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic
SONY BMG Columbia – R67-2868

Alex North
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Main Title (excerpt)
Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, National Philharmic Orchestra
Varese Sarabande Records VSD-5800

Hans Eisler, John Willet, lyrics, orig words by Bertolt Brecht, trans by Eric Bentley
Song of a German Mother
Lotte Lenya
Bear Family Records BCD 16019 KL

Charles Ives
They Are There! (A War Song March) (arr. for Concert Band)
US Marine Band
Naxos 8.570559

 

Photo credit: Brock University Walker Arts Center production of City of Mahagonny in 2015.
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