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Kurt Weill's immigrant odyssey

Kurt Weill started young. At the age of 12 he was already composing. By his early twenties, his first symphony took shape. In Germany’s Weimar Republic, his musical career flourished.

But then came the Nazis and also a swift decision by this Jewish composer to move from Berlin to Broadway. His songs are still performed there today. 

Weill lived for just 50 years and rose to become one of the country’s leading composers for the stage. Heleft a lasting mark on the “American” musical. Chances are you already know some of his work. It’s been covered by the likes of Bobby Darrin, Nina Simone, David Bowie, and PJ Harvey. 

For Labor Day, this “More Than Music” documentary looks at the life and times of this renowned German-American composer. Our guide, Joseph Horowitz, looks at some of the baggage that still surrounds a musician who was considered an “exemplary immigrant” who “became an American.” 

This is a “More Than Music” production, scripted and edited by Joseph Horowitz. The technical producer was Peter Bogdanoff. Earlier ‘More Than Music’ programs can be found hereherehere, and here.

Performances were recorded live at the Brevard Music Festival in Brevard, North Carolina, and included soprano Lisa Vroman, baritone William Sharp, pianist Shane Schag, the Brevard Music Center Orchestra conducted by its Artistic Director, and Keith Lockhart.

Brevard’s “Kurt Weill’s America” festival was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kurt Weill Foundation. And Joe writes about Weill in America in his book “Artists in Exile,” published by HarperCollins.



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Rupert Allman