The Kurt Weill Edition has won more than its share of awards over the years, and the latest volume, Johnny Johnson (Series I, Volume 13), has taken a most prestigious honor, the Claude V. Palisca Award. Bestowed by the American Musicological Society, the Palisca Award is given annually to an outstanding scholarly edition or translation published in the previous year. Johnny Johnson was edited by Distinguished Professor Tim Carter of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (photo at right) and published by the Kurt Weill Foundation and European American Music in 2012. The volume contains the complete score and text (including dialogue) of the play with music, written for the Group Theatre in 1936 by Weill and Paul Green. It was Weill’s first Broadway show. It is also the first edition of a musical to win the Palisca Award, a result of growing scholarly attention directed to Broadway musicals and a harbinger of changes in the field, as more and more definitive editions of musicals are in the works.
The Palisca Award honors a score or scholarly text that “best exemplifies the highest qualities of originality, interpretation, logic and clarity of thought, and communication.” With hundreds of new scores and musicology texts published each year, the competition is fierce. Broadway shows are notoriously difficult to edit due to scattered sources, multiple collaborators, and the absence of definitive texts due to frequent changes during rehearsals and inconsistent publishing practices. Carter has written about Monteverdi, Mozart, and Oklahoma!, so he is no stranger to musical theater. His work on Johnny Johnson was distinguished by extensive original research and meticulous attention to detail, along with rigorous application of the highest critical standards to a Broadway musical. Obviously, the AMS panel noticed. In presenting the award to Johnny Johnson, committee chair Professor Laura Youens remarked, “Masterful in its command of an extraordinarily complicated creative process and revision history, engagingly written, and beautifully presented, it exemplifies the best of what editors strive to do.”
Meanwhile, the Music Publishers Association has recognized Johnny Johnson with first prize in the category “Book Design in Folios,” the twelfth time a volume of the Kurt Weill Edition has won a Paul Revere Award since 2000, when Die Dreigroschenoper (ed. Stephen Hinton and Ed Harsh) took first prize in the “Folios (Full Score)” category.