The 2023 Kurt Weill Book Prize for an outstanding scholarly book on music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Making Broadway Dance, by Liza Gennaro, a choreographer and Dean of Musical Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music. Gennaro’s book, published by Oxford University Press, was selected by the Kurt Weill Book Prize advisory panel as the unanimous top choice for this year’s distinction, which carries with it a $5,000 award. The panel praised Gennaro’s “remarkable work, that is as approachable and engaging as it is carefully researched,” and lauded the inclusion of “many illuminating and overdue corrections to misconceptions about the authorship of some pieces of choreography, and the provocative questions raised about the legacies of certain Golden Age musicals as a result.”
The Book Prize panel also wanted to acknowledge a close runner-up by awarding Special Recognition to a second book, An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre: 1900-1950 (Methuen Drama), by conductor and educator Sean Mayes and music theater historian Sarah K. Whitfield. Praised by the panel for its “crystal-clear arguments made with electric passion and backed by thorough research,” the book “fills an important gap in telling the Black History of musical theater in the first half of the 20th century.”
Amanda Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Musicology at Durham University, won the $2,000 Kurt Weill Article Prize for “Jewish Difference and Recovering ‘Commedia’: Erich W. Korngold’s Die tote Stadt in Post-First World War Austria,” published in Music and Letters in 2022. The Article Prize panelists selected Hsieh’s article from a pool of twenty-nine nominees, celebrating hers as “a sensitively crafted, fresh and fascinating analysis of Die tote Stadt, which deftly explores the collision between Wagnerian style (and ideology) and commedia.”
David C. Paul, Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of California Santa Barbara earned Special Recognition for his runner-up article, “Race and the Legacy of the World’s Columbian Exposition in American Popular Theater from the Gilded Age to Show Boat (1927).” According to the panel, Paul’s article, published in American Music in 2021, “unquestionably succeeds in shining a new and enormously illuminating light on an already exhaustively-studied work.”
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prizes recognize distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2021 or 2022 were eligible for the 2023 prize; book and article nominations were each reviewed by a separate panel of music and theater experts. The Kurt Weill Book Prize was inaugurated in 1995, with the Article Prize following shortly thereafter in 1999. For a complete list of Kurt Weill Prize winners, see www.kwf.org/awards/kurt-weill-prize/kurt-weill-prize-winners/.