Lys Symonette Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awardee
On the occasion of a festival and conference celebrating the centenary of Lotte Lenya’s birth and the arrival at the Eastman School of Music of Weill’s holograph scores of works published by Universal Edition, the third and fourth Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awards were bestowed upon world-renowned singer Teresa Stratas and Lys Symonette, Vice-President of the Kurt Weill Foundation since 1981. At a dinner held at the University Club in Rochester, New York on 13 November 1998, KWF president Kim H. Kowalke made the presentation of the engraved Steuben glass sculptures to each honoree.
Lys Symonette (1914-2005; born Bertlies Weinschenk in Mainz, Germany) was engaged by Weill in 1945 as rehearsal pianist and general understudy for The Firebrand of Florence. She was subsequently promoted to principal coach and musical assistant for Street Scene, Love Life, and Lost in the Stars. After the composer’s untimely death in 1950, Symonette continued as musical advisor and accompanist for Lenya, who would also designate her a trustee and “musical executive” of the Kurt Weill Foundation. Symonette is the author of numerous German-to-English and English-to-German translations of Weill’s stage works. She also co-edited and translated (with Kowalke) the English- and German-language editions of Speak Low (When You Speak Love): The Letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. She served as musical supervisor for many productions, films, and recordings of Weill’s works, including the landmark Street Scene directed by Francesca Zambello (1994-5) in Houston and Berlin.