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WEILL, Kurt (1900-50)

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WEILL, Kurt (1900-50), German-American composer whose stage works on contemporary subjects skillfully integrate advanced musical techniques with elements of popular music. Born March 2, 1900, in Dessau, Weill studied with the composers Ferruccio Busoni and Engelbert Humperdinck. With the German poet-dramatist Bertolt Brecht he created a new form of musical theater in two satiric-didactic, musically brilliant works, both of which won international acclaim: Die Dreigroschenoper (1928; Eng. production, The Threepenny Opera, 1954), a modern paraphrase of The Beggar's Opera (1728) by the British writer John Gay; and Aufsteig und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1929; Eng. production, Mahagonny, 1970). Weill's works were banned as subversive in Germany, and he went with his wife, the actor Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), first to Paris (1933-35) and then to the U.S. (1935). For the Broadway musical theater he composed Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), Lady in the Dark (1941), and One Touch of Venus (1943). His other works include Street Scene (1947), Lost in the Stars (1949), and the folk opera Down in the Valley (1948). Weill died in New York City on April 3, 1950.

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