European American Music Corporation has just published Unsung Weill, a volume of twenty-two songs from the pen of Kurt Weill, famed composer of The Threepenny Opera. These vocal gems, cut from shows and films and hidden in archives for more than half a century, are now available for the first time. With contributions from the most famous lyric writers of the classic Broadway era, including Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, Ira Gershwin, and Oscar Hammerstein, these selections are a must-have for anyone interested in Broadway.
Unsung Weill presents numbers from all of Weill's Broadway hits and three film scores, including the music for Fritz Lang's You and Me. In addition, the volume features two propaganda songs from World War II's Lunchtime Follies, with lyrics by Lewis Allan (aka Abel Meeropol) and Oscar Hammerstein II. The Broadway shows represented in the album are Johnny Johnson, Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, Street Scene, Love Life, and Lost in the Stars, with lyrics by Paul Green, Maxwell Anderson, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes, and Alan Jay Lerner. In addition to Gershwin, Weill's lyricist collaborators on the included film songs were Sam Coslow and Ann Ronell.
Kurt Weill worked extremely economically and usually custom-tailored his music to the dramatic context of his works for the theater. In spite of that, book revisions, vocal limitations of performers, and over-long shows sometimes caused songs to be cut. Rarely, in Weill's case, was a song not up to standards. With Weill's trademark blend of irony and sincerity, the Unsung songs present a wide variety of musical and dramatic styles. Opera singers and jazz guitarists alike will want to add these songs to their repertoire.