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March 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Kurt Weill!


I grew up hearing the song "Mack the Knife" through the version done by Lotte Lenya. My father was both a scholar of Bertolt Brecht in addition to translating some of his plays into English. Because of Brecht, I was exposed to the music of Kurt Weill. Today would have been Weill's 105th birthday.

I don't know what my father thought about Bobby Darin's version of "Mack the Knife", but I played The Doors' version of "Alabama Song" for him. At a time when I couldn't see movies without parental approval, I used the inclusion of Lotte Lenya to justify seeing From Russia, with Love. When it was available on VHS, I bought my father a copy of the G.W. Pabst version of The Threepenny Opera.

For all of the music he wrote, Weill's legacy is primarily based on the songs and music from The Threepenny Opera and a handful of individual pieces, like "September Song". Every few years, one of Weill's songs will be heard in a movie. No matter which film I hear using a Kurt Weill song, I can't help but to think back to a time when I heard Lotte Lenya singing on a one-speaker record player.

Posted by peter at March 2, 2006 04:50 PM