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Breath from Broadway

by Julian Seaman

Source: Cue, vol. 12, no. 46, November 13, 1943, p. 16

Editor’s Note: In a letter to press agent Jean Dalrymple, Weill objected strongly to this article, claiming that his words had been distorted or misquoted outright, particularly in the last two paragraphs. It is not known whether he complained to the author or the editors of Cue.

If some of our stuffier musicians were to tarry in some bistro opposite Kurt Weill, for instance, the “light and air” so desirable to contemporary music might flow more freely.

Mr. Weill, you will remember, is a European, nourished upon the sturdy essentials of German musical schooling, composer of a symphony or two and of innumerable operettas that have bloomed all over Europe, and now the proud creator of that fascinating score accompanying the mad whimsies of the Messrs. Perelman and Nash in One Touch of Venus.

He is an intense, earnest little man, rather bald and hiding his light behind thick, horn-rimmed glasses. He thinks the future of American music lies not in the concert hall but upon the stage. “The theatre is alive,” he explains. He told me, over some combustibles [sic] purveyed in Sardi’s the other afternoon, that trained musicians come to Broadway, himself included, are evolving a new medium that is neither opera, operetta nor good red musical comedy.

He said, the while tracing prehistoric animal forms with a soft pencil upon one of Vincent’s best tablecloths:

“Trained musicians have contributed a concert technique to Broadway. But the producer is still magnificently disorganized. Fancy casting a show before the score is finished! You’d think the world had progressed beyond the days of Schikaneder and Mozart! The Magic Flute, you know, was the first Broadway musical comedy, produced with all the hysteria and confusion that precedes a Broadway opening.

“The chief weakness of Broadway is its lack of creative ability. Hence that peculiar genus called the arranger. But Broadway audiences are the best in the world. They are emotional and instructive. They don’t know why they like or dislike a show, but they’re always right!”

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