This chronology lists Weill's works, records key events in his life, and tracks most of his moves and travels. Works are generally listed under the dates of their premieres followed by date of composition and collaborators in parentheses. If the work was not performed during Weill's lifetime, it is listed under its date of composition. Only the most significant unrealized projects are mentioned. Doubtful dates are noted with a question mark.
2 March 1900
Kurt Julian Weill born to Albert Weill (1867-1950) and Emma Ackermann Weill (1872-1955), Leipziger Strasse 59, Dessau, Germany. The third of four children: Nathan (1898-1957), Hans Jakob (1899-1947), Ruth (1901-1972). The family traces its roots to Juda (c. 1360) and his son Jakob Weil (c. 1390), a rabbi in Nürnberg, Augsburg, Bamberg, and Erfurt.
Starts elementary school.
Attends Herzogliche Friedrichs-Oberrealschule (secondary school). His music teacher is August Thiele and his German teacher is Dr. Max Preitz.
First surviving compositions:
"Mi Addir: Jüdischer Trauungsgesang."
"Es blühen zwei flammende Rosen." Song fragment.
Studies piano and theory with Albert Bing, a former student of Hans Pfitzner. His wife Edith is the sister of the Expressionist playwright Carl Sternheim. The Bings later become "second parents" to Kurt Weill.
"Gebet" (Emanuel Geibel), Dessau. Four-part chorale composed for sister Ruth's confirmation.
Earliest known public performance by Weill: "Für uns," Dessauer Feldkorps.
Ofrahs Lieder (Spring 1916-September 1916, Jehuda Halevi). A cycle of five songs. The date of the first performance is unknown. (Weill later considered this to be his starting point as a composer.)
"Volkslied" (Anna Ritter).
"Das schöne Kind" (author unknown).
Begins taking piano lessons every other day, practicing in the morning and composing in the afternoons. The piano lessons include etudes by Moscheles, Bach chorales in four clefs, and score-reading from Tristan.
Conducts a student orchestra, directs a male chorus, and performs with the Cöthener Jungwehr Musik. He begins taking trumpet lessons in the hopes of being placed in a military band if he is drafted.
Intermezzo, piano solo.
6 February 1918
"Maikaterlied" and "Abendlied" (April 1917-January 1918, Otto Julius Bierbaum) Saal des Evang. Vereinshauses, Dessau, Clara Ossent and Gertrud Prinzler.
Finishes studies at Herzogliche Friedrichs-Oberrealschule in Dessau and travels to Berlin to make arrangements for his further education.
Moves to a pension on the Winterfeldplatz in western Berlin. Attends classes at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin and studies philosophy at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, where his teachers include Ernst Cassirer and Max Dessoir. With the consent of Albert Bing and his parents, he decides at the end of three months to concentrate on musical studies instead of medicine.
Begins studies with Friedrich Koch and Engelbert Humperdinck; he describes himself as ahead of his fellow students in the areas of piano, score-reading, organ, conducting, and theory, but behind in improvisation and counterpoint.
Begins full-time studies at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin. His teachers include Paul Juon and Humperdinck (composition), Koch (counterpoint), and Rudolf Krasselt (conducting). Weill's reading includes Auch Einer by Friedrich Theodor Vischer and Novellen um Claudia by Arnold Zweig. He also begins informal violin lessons.
String Quartet in B Minor (1917-18).
Orchestra Suite in E major (1918-March 1919).
Despite winning a Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy scholarship for composition, Weill agrees with his parents that he should leave the Hochschule and gain more practical experience as a vocal coach and conductor, with the intention of continuing composition lessons with Hermann Wetzler in Cologne, or with Pfitzner in Munich.
Upon a recommendation from Humperdinck, Weill begins a 6-month tenure as second Kapellmeister at the newly formed municipal theater in Lüdenscheid.
Conducts Die Fledermaus, Cavalleria Rusticana, Zigeunerbaron, and the premiere of an operetta, all within two days in Lüdenscheid.
Sonata for Violoncello and Piano (ca. Spring 1919-Summer 1920). Possible premiere: Hannover; Martin Meissner, cello, Albert Bing, piano, February 1921.
Moves back to Berlin, first to Beerenstrasse 48 in Zehlendorf, then to Flensburger Strasse 11 in Lichterfelde.
Accepted to study in Ferruccio Busoni's master class at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin after Oskar Bie's recommendation in November.
Symphony in one movement (Sinfonie in einem Satz, later known as Symphony no. 1). A four-hand piano version is performed in Busoni's master class.
Officially begins composition studies with Ferruccio Busoni (some evidence points to an earlier date). He later supplements composition studies with counterpoint lessons from Philipp Jarnach, who teaches him for several years without fee. Jarnach also arranges many of Weill's early performances.
Joins music division of the Novembergruppe.
Prepares piano reduction for Busoni's Divertimento for Flute and Orchestra, op. 52 (November 1921-22).
18 November 1922
Zaubernacht (Summer 1922, children's pantomime with scenario by Wladimir Boritsch). Theater am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin; George Weller, conductor; Franz Ludwig Hörth, director.
7 December 1922
Divertimento für kleines Orchester mit Männerchor (last movement only). Sing-Akademie; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Heinz Unger, conductor. Entire work: April 10, 1923, Berlin Philharmonic Hall; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Heinz Unger, conductor. The full score is lost.
From 1923 until 1926, Weill supplements his income by giving private theory and composition lessons. His students include Claudio Arrau, Nikos Skalkottas, and Maurice Abravanel.
14 June 1923
Quodlibet, op. 9 ("Orchestersuite aus der Kinderpantomime Zaubernacht"). Friedrich-Theater, Dessau; Albert Bing, conductor.
24 June 1923
String Quartet no. 1, op. 8 (1922-1923). Frankfurt Kammermusikwoche; Hindemith-Amar Quartet. The quartet becomes part of the repertory of the Roth Quartet, which performs it twice in Paris in 1924 and tours it throughout Spain.
Recordare, op. 11 (Text: Lamentations V), Berlin. In 1925, Weill asked Universal Edition to suggest a performance of Recordare at the Donaueschingen music festival, but it is not performed there.
Meets Expressionist playwright Georg Kaiser.
24 January 1924
Frauentanz, sieben Gedichte des Mittelalters, op. 10. (June-July 1923). Saal der Singakademie, Berlin; Nora Pisling-Boas, soprano; Fritz Stiedry, conductor.
22 April 1924
Signs first publishing contract with Universal-Edition, Vienna.
Meets Lotte Lenja at Georg Kaiser's home in Grünheide, a suburb east of Berlin. (She changes the spelling of her name to "Lenya" in 1937.)
Kaiser and Weill stop work on a ballet pantomime they have begun and start on a one-act opera based on an earlier play of Kaiser's, Der Protagonist.
22 January 1925
Das Stundenbuch (1923-25, Rainer Maria Rilke). Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Manfred Lewandowsky, baritone, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Heinz Unger, conductor. Manuscript partly lost.
Moves with Lenya to an apartment owned by Georg Kaiser: Berlin-Charlottenburg, Luisenplatz 3, bei Hassfort. The poet-playwright Rudolph Leonhardt shares this address as do Iwan and Claire Goll. Weill and Lenya live here for more than three years.
11 June 1925
Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, op. 12 (April-May 1924). Théâtre de l'Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Marcel Darrieux, violin; Walter Straram, conductor. Although Joseph Szigeti was pleased that Weill dedicated the concerto to him, he apparently never performed it.
27 December 1925
First performance of Weill's music in America (Zaubernacht at the Garrick Theater, New York).
28 January 1926
Marries Lotte Lenya, née Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blamauer, in a civil ceremony in the Charlottenburg section of Berlin.
27 March 1926
Der Protagonist (1924-25, Georg Kaiser). Dresden Staatsoper; Fritz Busch, conductor; Josef Gielen, director. The premiere of Der Protagonist marks Weill's first major success in the German theater. Other performances soon follow in Nuremberg and Erfurt.
Weill meets Bertolt Brecht and they begin collaboration on the opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny.
2 March 1927
Der neue Orpheus (1925, Iwan Goll) and Royal Palace (1925-26, Iwan Goll). Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden; Delia Reinhardt, soprano; Rudolf Deman, violinist; Erich Kleiber, conductor.
Na und? (March 1926-March 1927, Felix Joachimson). Two-act comic opera, unperformed. Universal Edition rejects the composition; only sketches survive.
17 July 1927
Mahagonny (Songspiel), (Bertolt Brecht). Deutsches Kammermusikfest, Baden-Baden; Ernst Mehlich, conductor; Bertolt Brecht, director (with Walther Brügmann). The other works on the program are Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse by Ernst Toch, Die Entführung der Europa by Darius Milhaud, and Hin und zurück by Paul Hindemith. This performance marks Lenya's first appearance in a work by Weill.
23 November 1927
Vom Tod im Wald, op. 23 (September 1927, Bertolt Brecht). Berlin Philharmonic; Heinrich Hermanns, bass; Eugen Lang, conductor. This is the last of Weill's works to bear an opus number.
18 February 1928
Der Zar lässt sich photographieren (1927, Georg Kaiser). Leipzig Neues Theater; Gustav Brecher, conductor; Walther Brügmann, director. The one-act opera had thirty-nine performances in ten different productions during its first season. The next season brought seventy-five performances in twenty-six different productions.
Travels with Lenya to the south of France to work with Brecht on Die Dreigroschenoper, stopping in Paris to discuss a production of Der Zar lässt sich photographieren with Mme. Bériza-Grévin. They stay at Hostellerie de la Plage, Cyr sur Mer. Brecht, Helene Weigel, Elizabeth Hauptmann rent a villa in Le Lavandou.
31 August 1928
Die Dreigroschenoper (May-September 1928, Bertolt Brecht). Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin; Theo Mackeben, conductor; Erich Engel, director. Die Dreigroschenoper becomes an instant hit, and theaters throughout Germany announce future productions. At Weill's insistence, Universal Edition produces popular editions of the songs.
15 October 1928
"Berlin im Licht" (October 1928, text probably by either Brecht or Weill, officially credited to Weill). Military band version: Wittenbergplatz; Hermann Scherchen, conductor. Song version: October 16, 1928; Krolloper; Paul Graetz, voice.
7 February 1929
Kleine Dreigroschenmusik für Blasorchester (December 1928-January 1929). Staatsoper am Platz der Republik (Kroll), Berlin, Preussische Staatskapelle; Otto Klemperer, conductor.
22 May 1929
Das Berliner Requiem (November-December 1928, Bertolt Brecht). Frankfurt Radio; Ludwig Rottenberg, conductor.
27 July 1929
Der Lindberghflug (1929, original version with Paul Hindemith, text by Bertolt Brecht). Kurhaus, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra; Hermann Scherchen, conductor. Neither Weill nor Hindemith is pleased with the result. Weill had already decided to set the entire text himself.
2 September 1929
Happy End (June-August 1929, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht; play by Elisabeth Hauptmann and Brecht). Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin; Theo Mackeben, conductor, Erich Engel, director. The success of Die Dreigroschenoper is not repeated, and the play closes after a handful of performances. Universal Edition does not publish a vocal score. The work is not revived until 1958.
5 December 1929
Der Lindberghflug (September-November 1929, second version with music entirely by Weill). Staatsoper am Platz der Republik (Krolloper); Otto Klemperer, conductor.
9 March 1930
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1927-30, Bertolt Brecht). Neues Theater, Leipzig; Gustav Brecher, conductor, Walther Brügmann, director. The premiere performance is interrupted by political demonstrations, and subsequent performances continue under close police supervision.
24 June 1930
Der Jasager (January-May 1930, Bertolt Brecht). Zentralinstitut für Erziehung und Unterricht, Berlin; Kurt Drabek, conductor, with singers taken from the Staats-Akademie für Kirchen- und Schulmusik and other Berlin schools. The work is immensely successful and is subsequently performed in schools all over Germany.
Temporary end of Weill's collaboration with Brecht because of growing aesthetic and political differences.
Weill and Brecht take legal action against the Nero-Tobis company for breach of contract arising from unauthorized changes made to Die Dreigroschenoper in the film version to be directed by G.W. Pabst. Weill's complaint is upheld; Brecht's is rejected but the film company settles with him anyway; both collect damages.
Ultraphon records songs from Die Dreigroschenoper with Kurt Gerron, Erich Ponto, Willy Trenk-Trebitsch, Erika Helmke, Lenya, and the Lewis Ruth Band conducted by Theo Mackeben. Despite the fact that they were made over two years after the premiere and involved several new performers, these recordings have frequently been miscalled original cast recordings.
19 February 1931
Premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper film directed by G.W. Pabst, in Berlin.
4 April 1931
American premiere of Der Lindberghflug, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
Lenya travels to Russia to act in a film directed by Erwin Piscator. By this time Weill is romantically involved with Erika Neher (Caspar Neher's wife).
Buys a house as a birthday present for Lenya at Wissmannstrasse 7 (now called Käthe-Kollwitz-Strasse) in Kleinmachnow, an area in southwest Berlin.
21 December 1931
Weill's revised version of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny opens for a commercial run at Theater am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin. Weill revises some numbers to accommodate Lenya and other singing actors in the cast. Quarrels with Brecht in the course of rehearsals.
Moves into the new house in Kleinmachnow (Berlin-Zehlendorf). Lenya and Weill are now estranged, but Weill registers the deed in Lenya's name.
10 March 1932
Die Bürgschaft (1930-31, Caspar Neher). Berlin Städtische Oper; Fritz Stiedry, conductor, Carl Ebert, director. The opera premieres in the spotlight of direct political attack from the Nationalist and Nazi press. Weill's most ambitious work to date, it becomes a rallying point for the remaining defenders of the Republic's artistic freedom.
26 April 1932
Attends the first Viennese performance of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, with Lotte Lenya as Jenny. During rehearsals Lenya meets a singer named Otto Pasetti (who plays Jimmy) and stays in Vienna to live with him.
11 December 1932
Acclaimed performance at the Salle Gaveau in Paris of Mahagonny Songspiel (with four additional numbers from Aufstieg) and Der Jasager conducted by Maurice Abravanel with Lenya and Pasetti performing. The concert is sponsored by Vicomte Charles de Noailles and Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles. Weill investigates further commissions while in Paris.
Lenya begins divorce proceedings against Weill in Germany.
18 February 1933
Der Silbersee (August 1932-33, Georg Kaiser). Altes Theater, Leipzig; Gustav Brecher, conductor; Detlef Sierck, director. Simultaneous premieres in Erfurt and Magdeburg.
4 March 1933
The last public performance of any work by Weill (Der Silbersee) in Germany until 1945. In early March Lenya and Louise Hartung pack some of Weill's belongings from the house on Wismannstrasse and drive Weill to Munich, where they presumably went to await the outcome of the March 5 elections. Lenya proceeds to Vienna, and Weill returns to Berlin, where he presumably first stays in a hotel in Charlottenburg and then moves to the Nehers' house.
21 March 1933
Potsdam Day. Weill flees Berlin by car with Caspar and Erika Neher, arriving in Paris on March 23. He stays first at the Hôtel Jacob and the Hôtel Splendide, and soon moves to the home of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, 11 place des Etats-Unis.
4 April 1933
Contracts with art patron Edward James to write a ballet score for the troupe "Les Ballets 1933." Weill tries to interest Jean Cocteau in writing a libretto for a ballet chanté. When Cocteau declines, James suggests Brecht as author, and Weill agrees. Weill and Cocteau decide to collaborate on a Faust opera in a modern setting.
13 April 1933
American premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper in an English translation by Gifford Cochran and Jerrold Krimsky, Empire Theater, New York. The production closes on April 24 after only 12 performances.
7 June 1933
Die sieben Todsünden (Bertolt Brecht). Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, and June 30-July 15, 1933, Savoy Theatre, London; Maurice Abravanel, conductor, George Balanchine, choreographer. This is the first work by Weill to be produced in England. Weill left Paris for Italy a week after the opening. A concert of the "Paris version" of Mahagonny and Kleine Dreigroschenmusik is presented on June 20 at the Salle Gaveau.
18 September 1933
Divorce from Lotte Lenya is finalized in Potsdam.
31 October 1933
Signs a new publishing agreement with Heugel, Paris, which guarantees an advance of 4,000 French francs per month.
19 November 1933
Weill and Universal Edition come to agreement on the termination of his contract. Universal Edition retains the rights in the works they have published to date.
23 November 1933
Writes to Lenya from his new apartment: 9 bis place Dreux, Louveciennes (outside of Paris).
26 November 1933
In Paris, Weill is subjected to a pro-Hitler, anti-Semitic demonstration, led by composer Florent Schmitt at a concert of three songs from Der Silbersee, conducted by Maurice Abravanel. Lenya sells the house in Berlin and sends Weill some furniture in Paris.
Begins work on Der Kuhhandel, an operetta with libretto by Robert Vambery. During January-May 1935 the collaborators adapt it for a production in England under the title A Kingdom for a Cow. (The premiere of the original German version is not given until 1994.)
"Complainte de la Seine" (M. Magre) and "Je ne t'aime pas" (M. Magre). Numerous cabaret performances by Lys Gauty.
Lenya moves to Weill's house in Louveciennes.
11 October 1934
Symphony no. 2 [billed as "Symphonische Fantasie (Symphony no. 1)"] (January 1933-February 1934). Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; Bruno Walter, conductor. Weill attends rehearsals and the performance. Walter conducts the symphony again in New York, December 13, 1934. Both times, critical reception is very poor.
22 December 1934
Marie Galante (Jacques Deval, August-September 1934). Théâtre de Paris; Edmond Mahieux, conductor, H. Henriot, director. The production runs for three weeks.
Travels to London to work on A Kingdom for a Cow and searches for film work. He stays at the Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly until March, when he rents an apartment at 7 Bramham Gardens, Earls Court.
Lotte Lenya comes to London, presumably to study English.
28 June 1935
A Kingdom for a Cow (January-May 1935, English lyrics by Desmond Carter; English book adapted from Vambery by Reginald Arkell). Savoy Theatre, London; Muir Matheson, conductor; Ernst Matray and Felix Weissberger, directors.
Finishes work on Der Weg der Verheissung in Louveciennes and Salzburg. The work is not performed in the original German version, but it is revised October 1935-December 1936 for an American production under the provisional title "The Road of Promise."
4 September 1935
Sails aboard the S.S. Majestic from Cherbourg with Lenya and Meyer Weisgal. Eleonora and Francesco von Mendelssohn travel with them.
10 September 1935
Arrives at New York Harbor. He and Lenya stay at the St. Moritz Hotel, Central Park South, New York, until February 1936.
Attends a rehearsal of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
17 December 1935
The League of Composers sponsors a concert of excerpts from Mahagonny, Die Dreigroschenoper, Kingdom for a Cow, and Die Bürgschaft, with Lenya singing some numbers; it is coolly received.
Weill and Lenya move to a less expensive hotel, the Park Crescent at 150 Riverside Drive. Weill obtains a new passport from the German consulate and explores various opportunities in the theater.
Heugel gives notice of termination of Weill's publishing contract. Weill meets Cheryl Crawford, a theater producer and founder of the Group Theatre who will be instrumental in helping Weill establish himself in America.
3 May 1936
Cheryl Crawford arranges for Weill to travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to work with Paul Green on a new musical.
4 June 1936
Spends a day with Lenya at Maxwell Anderson's home in New City, Rockland County. The two had met at a theatrical party during the previous winter after a performance of Anderson's Winterset.
Weill, Lenya, Paul Green and Crawford join the Group Theatre at Pine Brook in Trumbull, Connecticut to work on Johnny Johnson. He introduces the cast to music from Die Dreigroschenoper; Marc Blitzstein is in attendance.
Weill is desolate when Erika Neher asks for an end to their protracted affair.
Signs a contract with music publisher Chappell for publication of new works, beginning with Johnny Johnson. The production team for The Eternal Road is reassembled.
19 November 1936
Johnny Johnson (June-November 1936, Paul Green). 44th St. Theatre, New York; Lehman Engel, conductor, Lee Strasberg, director. 68 performances.
7 January 1937
The Eternal Road (1934-1936, Franz Werfel, with an English translation by Ludwig Lewisohn and additional lyrics by Charles Alan). Manhattan Opera House, New York; Max Reinhardt, director, Norman Bel Geddes, designer, Isaac van Grove and Leo Kopp, conductors. 153 performances. Weill's contribution is praised, but press coverage of the music is dominated by the celebrity of Max Reinhardt and the size of the spectacle. (The original German version, Der Weg der Verheissung, is not performed until 1999.)
19 January 1937
Weill and Lenya remarry in a civil ceremony in Westchester County, north of New York City.
The River Is Blue, film score commissioned by Walter Wanger, Hollywood. The film's working title, Castles in Spain, is changed to The River is Blue, then to The Adventuress and Rising Tide before finally being released as Blockade. Weill explores film scoring and recording techniques. Both George Antheil and Charlie Chaplin are impressed with his music, but the score is eventually discarded by Wanger and replaced with one by Werner Janssen.
Accepts an offer to write music for a Fritz Lang film, You and Me, hoping that the money will enable him to continue his theater work.
27 August 1937
Applies for American citizenship after re-entering the U.S. from Canada on an immigrant visa. Madeleine Milhaud arranges to send Weill's belongings from Louveciennes to New York.
Moves to duplex apartment at 231 East 62nd Street, New York.
Davy Crockett (H.R. Hays). An unfinished show for the Federal Theatre Project.
Travels to Hollywood to attend recording sessions for You and Me. Address: Villa Carlotta, 5959 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. Lenya stays in New York and performs a nightclub act at Le Ruban Bleu on West 56th Street.
You and Me, film score, lyrics by Sam Coslow and Johnny Burke, directed by Fritz Lang. Only nine of twenty-three music cues are credited to Weill alone. First screened in New York, June 1, 1938. "The Right Guy for Me" is published as sheet music by Famous Music Corp, 1938. Weill also begins work on Railroads on Parade for performance in the railroad pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair.
Begins writing Knickerbocker Holiday with Maxwell Anderson and helps his brother Hans immigrate to the U.S. with his wife and daughter.
Rents a country house 3-1/2 miles outside Suffern, New York: "Eastman Estate," Sky Meadow Road, Route 202, Ramapo, New York. From here he has easy access to Maxwell Anderson's and Burgess Meredith's homes in New City.
19 October 1938
Knickerbocker Holiday (June-September 1938, Maxwell Anderson). Barrymore Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor, Joshua Logan, director. 168 performances followed by a tour of seven cities in 1939. The actor Walter Huston creates Weill's first American hit, "September Song."
30 April 1939
Railroads on Parade (Spring 1938-Winter 1939, Edward Hungerford). New York World's Fair; Isaac van Grove, conductor, Charles Alan, director. Revised and performed again at the 1940 World's Fair.
Accepted as an "active member" member of ASCAP, the main performing rights organization in the United States. Throughout his career in America, Weill makes periodic petitions to the organization requesting an increase in his ranking.
"Nannas Lied" (Bertolt Brecht), New York. Written for Lenya, Christmas, 1939.
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (Robert Frost), New York. Manuscript missing; a portion of a copyist's manuscript has survived.
Begins collaboration with Ira Gershwin and Moss Hart on Lady in the Dark.
4 February 1940
The Ballad of Magna Carta (radio cantata, Maxwell Anderson). Columbia Broadcasting System, New York; Mark Warnow, conductor. Commissioned by Norman Corwin for his series The Pursuit of Happiness.
17 June 1940
Sends letters to Erika Mann and Bruno Frank to request their help in creating an organization of German exiles who would offer their services to the U.S. government to help combat Nazism.
23 January 1941
Lady in the Dark (February-November 1940, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, book by Moss Hart). Alvin Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor; Moss Hart, director. 467 performances over two seasons plus a tour of ten cities in 1943. The premiere marks Weill's first unqualified success on Broadway and solidifies his career in America.
28 May 1941
Purchases Brook House in New City (Rockland County), New York, a home which Lenya keeps until her death in 1981. Their neighbors are Maxwell Anderson, actor Burgess Meredith, artist Henry Varnum Poor, cartoonist Milton Caniff, actress Helen Hayes, Charles MacArthur, author Bessie Breuer, and publisher William Sloane.
5 October 1941
Fun to be Free (anti-Fascist pageant by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur). Madison Square Garden, New York; Simon Rady, conductor; Brett Warren, director. Sponsored by Fight for Freedom, Inc.
Walt Whitman Songs: "Oh Captain! My Captain!," "Beat! Beat! Drums!," "Dirge for two veterans," New York. A fourth song, "Come up from the fields, father," was composed in 1947. Weill hopes that Paul Robeson will record them. "Beat! Beat! Drums!" is recorded in March by Helen Hayes (see below). All four songs were recorded in 1947 by tenor William Horne.
[Songs for the War Effort], New York.
31 March 1942
[Four Patriotic Melodramas]. Recorded by Helen Hayes; Roy Shields, conductor; Victor M 909. Title of recording: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. Hayes recites the texts over Weill's orchestral arrangements of the following songs:
Corresponds with Clarence Muse, Paul Robeson, Brecht, and Theodor Adorno regarding an adaptation of Die Dreigroschenoper for an all-black cast in California. Angered by a proposal to reorchestrate the work for a jazz band and a proposed contract that would cede rights in perpetuity and pay him almost nothing, Weill agrees only to a one-time tryout in California. The production never takes place.
Cheryl Crawford, now an independent producer, agrees to back Weill's proposed collaboration with Bella Spewack on a musical adaptation of F. Anstey's novel The Tinted Venus, for which Ogden Nash will write the lyrics. Weill offers the title role to Marlene Dietrich.
22 June 1942
First production of the "Lunchtime Follies" at the Todd Shipyards in Brooklyn (a tryout had taken place the previous week at the Wheeler Shipyard in Queens). Variety reports that the half-hour traveling show "looks set to become a national institution." The "Follies," a continually changing series of skits and songs designed to boost workers' morale,were produced at defense plants for at least two years thereafter.
30 September 1942
In California, Weill and Brecht meet for the first time since 1935. Weill discusses with Marlene Dietrich the lead role in One Man's Venus, the show he is working on with Bella Spewack. After Dietrich declines, Tilly Losch is considered.
9 March 1943
We Will Never Die (Ben Hecht). "A memorial dedicated to the Two Million Jewish Dead of Europe." Madison Square Garden, New York; Isaac van Grove, conductor; Moss Hart, director. The production traveled to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and Hollywood; it was also widely broadcast.
Brecht and Ruth Berlau visit Weill at Brook House where the three begin work on an operatic version of The Good Soldier Schweik and The Good Woman of Sezuan, which is to be "half-opera." Neither collaboration bears fruit, and no music survives.
27 August 1943
Becomes a U.S. citizen.
7 October 1943
One Touch of Venus (June 1942-February 1943, June-September 1943, lyrics by Ogden Nash, book by S. J. Perelman and Ogden Nash). Imperial Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor; Elia Kazan, director. 567 performances over two seasons, followed by a tour to at least four cities in 1945.
Arranges eight songs for Lenya to record on Bost Records (BA 8): "Surabaya Johnny," "Denn wie man sich bettet," "J'attends un navire," "Complainte de la Seine," "Lost in the stars," and "Lover man," "Barbara-Song," and "Kanonensong" (the last two are not recorded). Weill supervises the recording and perhaps plays the piano accompaniment.
"Wie lange noch?" (Walter Mehring). Recorded by Lenya for the Office of War Information, intended for broadcast in Germany behind enemy lines. Lenya also records "Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib?" for the OWI.
late June 1944
Travels to Hollywood for collaboration with Edwin Justus Mayer and Ira Gershwin on The Firebrand of Florence. He rents a house at 10640 Taranto Way, Bel Air and attends recording sessions for the film Where Do We Go From Here? Lenya joins him in mid-September.
22 March 1945
The Firebrand of Florence (July-December 1944, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, book by Edwin Justus Mayer). Alvin Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor; John Murray Anderson, director. 43 performances. The show opens to poor reviews and is Weill's only flat-out Broadway failure.
Where Do We Go From Here? (film score, 20th Century-Fox, 1944), lyrics by Ira Gershwin, screenplay by Morris Ryskind, directed by Gregory Ratoff.
Down in the Valley, version for radio (Arnold Sundgaard). Maurice Abravanel conducted an audition recording, but it was never broadcast; revised April 1948 (see below).
Begins collaborating with Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes on Street Scene and starts composing music for it in January. Weill had already made outlines for a musical version of Rice's play with Maxwell Anderson. Hires Irving "Swifty" Lazar to be his Hollywood agent, replacing Arthur Lyons.
10 May 1946
Kiddush, for cantor, chorus and organ, completed March 16, 1946. Park Avenue Synagogue, New York; Cantor David Putterman, soloist.
5 September 1946
A Flag is Born (August 1946, music for a pageant by Ben Hecht) Alvin Theatre, New York; Isaac van Grove, conductor, Luther Adler, director. Sponsored by the American League for a Free Palestine. The production ran for a total of fifteen weeks on Broadway and then tours to five American cities.
9 January 1947
Street Scene (1946, book by Elmer Rice, lyrics by Rice and Langston Hughes). Adelphi Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor, Charles Friedman, director. 148 performances.
1 March 1947
Weill's brother Hans dies of kidney disease.
6 April 1947
Receives a "special" Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for distinguished achievement in the theater during the inaugural year of the awards. Although there was no award category for "best score" at the time, the award was undoubtedly made for the score of Street Scene.
6 May 1947
Leaves New York on the S.S. Mauretania for London via Liverpool, traveling from there by plane and train to Paris, Geneva, Rome, Cairo, Palestine, back to Paris, London, and New York. This is his first trip to Europe since his departure from France in 1935 and the first meeting with his parents since January 1934.
Begins work on Love Life with Alan Jay Lerner.
27 October 1947
Weill and Maxwell Anderson sign a protest against the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings. Brecht testifies before the Committee on 30 October and leaves for Switzerland the next day. Caspar Neher discusses a production of Die Bürgschaft with the Vienna Staatsoper.
25 November 1947
"Hatikvah" (Israeli national anthem), arranged for full orchestra. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky, conductor.
early Spring 1948
Hans Heinsheimer, now director of publications at Schirmer, approaches Weill with a request for a school opera like Der Jasager for production by the opera department of the Indiana University School of Music; Weill offers to adapt his unpublished radio opera Down in the Valley with librettist Arnold Sundgaard.
15 July 1948
Down in the Valley (stage version, revised 1948, Arnold Sundgaard). Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; Ernst Hoffmann, conductor; Hans Busch (son of Fritz Busch), director. Weill and Lenya attend the premiere with Alan Jay Lerner. Lerner's wife, Marion Bell, plays Jennie.
7 October 1948
Love Life (July 1947-January 1948, July-August 1948, Alan Jay Lerner). Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, New York; Joseph Littau, conductor; Elia Kazan, director. 252 performances.
Hoping to sell the film rights to Love Life, Weill and Lerner travel to Hollywood for a rest and to pursue new projects, including "Miss Memory" and a film treatment by Weill himself called "I Married a King." Weill writes to Lenya that the movie business is almost dead, with only MGM and 20th Century Fox still making musicals. He returns to New York on November 29.
Disagrees with Brecht about updating the text and music for Die Dreigroschenoper. Demands clarification of the publishing rights.
31 March 1949
Broadcast on NBC Television of "The Swift Show," a variety show on which Weill appears. He gives a brief interview to host Lanny Ross and plays the piano as Ross sings a chorus of "September Song." Next both are joined by Martha Wright for a rendition of "Here I'll Stay" from Love Life, then running on Broadway.
Collapses on Alan Jay Lerner's tennis court. He recovers quickly and swears Lerner to secrecy about the attack.
30 July 1949
Maurice Abravanel conducts excerpts from Street Scene and a "Symphonic Nocturne" from Lady in the Dark arranged by Robert Russell Bennett at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City.
30 October 1949
Lost in the Stars (Maxwell Anderson). Music Box Theatre, New York; Maurice Levine, conductor, Rouben Mamoulian, director. 281 performances, followed by a tour of ten cities.
Writes to Brecht of his plans to visit Europe with Lenya in the spring.
Works with Maxwell Anderson on a plot outline and five songs for a musical adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Unfinished.
17 March 1950
Suffers heart attack at Brook House and two days later is taken by ambulance to Flower Hospital in New York City.
3 April 1950
Dies, Flower Hospital, New York.
5 April 1950
Buried, Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.