Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein
Title Details

226 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

67 music exx. and 4 b/w illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 189

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein

A Study of Influence

by Rebecca Schmid

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  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
The first study to explore the crucial influence of Kurt Weill on operas and musicals by Marc Blitzstein and Leonard Bernstein.

Theodor Adorno famously proclaimed that the model of Kurt Weill could not be repeated. Yet Weill's stage works set an inescapable precedent for composers on both sides of the Atlantic. Rebecca Schmid explores how Weill's formal innovations in particular laid the groundwork for operas and musicals by Marc Blitzstein and Leonard Bernstein, although both composers resisted or downplayed his aesthetic contribution to American tradition. Comparative analysis based on Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence and other modes of intertextuality reveals that the principles of Weill's opera reform would catalyze an indigenous movement in sophisticated, socially engaged music theatre.

Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence focuses on works that represent different phases of Weill's mission to renew the genre of opera, evolving from Die Dreigroschenoper to the musical play Lady in the Dark and the Broadway Opera Street Scene. Blitzstein and Bernstein in turn defied formal boundaries with The Cradle Will Rock, Regina, Trouble in Tahiti, Candide, and West Side Story - part of a short-lived movement in mid-twentieth century America that coincided with a renaissance for Weill's German-period works following the premiere of Blitzstein's translation, The Threepenny Opera, under Bernstein's baton. The unpublished A Pray by Blecht, for which Bernstein rejoined Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins, his collaborators on West Side Story, deepens the connection of Bernstein's aesthetic to Weill.
Introduction
1 Why Influence?
2 "Have You Seen My New Opera?"
3 "Something Like Opera"
4 "Make Our Garden Grow
5 "This Isn't Worth drei Groschen"
6 A Pray by Blecht
7 "The Saga of Lenny"
Epilogue
Bibliography
Index

REBECCA SCHMID holds a PhD in musicology and media studies from Humboldt University, Berlin, and is an independent scholar with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century music.

"Schmid traces the tutelage of Blitzstein to Bernstein and back to Weill through performance anecdotes, personal letters, and documentation by previous researchers. Schmid's research is sound [and] the book is full of diverting production history and insights into the lives and minds of the three composers and their close circles." The New England Theatre Geek
"Deserves a warm welcome from anybody with an interest in the emergence of 'serious' Broadway shows after the Second World War. Weill's fundamental role in this is explored thoroughly, and the significance of his influence is brought into the light for the first time. This really is a fine read. A fascinating and original study." Gramophone
"Sheds considerable light on a fascinating subject and is well worth reading [since] Schmid writes so well." SOUNDWORDSIGHT: AN ARTS MAGAZINE
"Schmid's comprehensive archival research and revealing musical analysis offer new perspectives to support the many ways in which the "spectre of Weill" hovers gently over American opera." KURT WEILL NEWSLETTER
"Detailed comparisons between particular works, such as Candide and Die Dreigroschenoper, strengthen this rigorous account." BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

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Title Details

226 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

67 music exx. and 4 b/w illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 189

Imprint: University of Rochester Press