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October 08, 2009

Lotte Lenya: Die Moritat von Mackie Messer

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Mark Steyn on Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Marc Blitzstein.

A man's name is as central to his identity as you can get, but, since his premature death, even that's been taken away from Weill. In a remarkable act of cultural appropriation, he was in effect posthumously extradited to Berlin and reGermanicized - as the in-house composer for the decadent vamping soundtrack of Weimar. The composer's personal and professional efforts to assimilate were in vain: He worked with Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, Alan Jay Lerner; he wrote musical comedies for Mary Martin and Danny Kaye. "He was very interested in money," sneered Otto Klemperer. "He got too involved in American showbusiness and all the terrible people in it."

To listen to twits like Klemperer, you'd think that Weill, torn between the devil and the deep blue rinse of Broadway matinee ladies, should have stuck with Hitler as the lesser evil. Better a death camp in the Fatherland than a camp death on Broadway.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at October 8, 2009 07:58 AM