The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and European American Music Corporation are pleased to announce the publication of Kurt Weill’s first opera, the one-act Der Protagonist (1925) with a libretto by Georg Kaiser. Edited by Dr. Gunther Diehl of Wiesbaden, Germany, and Jürgen Selk (former Managing Editor of the Kurt Weill Edition), the volume publishes Weill’s orchestral score for the first time.
Completed in Berlin in March 1925 and given its premiere at the Dresden Staatsoper on 27 March 1926, Der Protagonist occupies a special place in Weill’s oeuvre. It was his first opera, written at age twenty-five, and belongs to a series of early compositions that systematically explored almost every musical genre: chamber music, choral music, lieder, orchestral works, and ballet. The opera is the climax of Weill’s early development and no other work is so characteristic of his early style.
With the successful premiere of the opera on 27 March 1926, conducted by the eminent Fritz Busch, Weill not only achieved a spectacular breakthrough as a composer but also immediately rose to prominence among the young composers identified at the time with the renewal of the “crisis-ridden genre” of opera.
Der Protagonist marks Weill’s first significant collaboration with another artist. Georg Kaiser (1878-1945) was an outstanding representative of expressionist drama. Along with Gerhart Hauptmann he was the most performed German playwright during the Weimar Republic, with some forty premieres of his plays.
The next volumes in the Kurt Weill Edition, currently in production, are: Music with Solo Violin (Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, op. 12, and Der neue Orpheus, op. 16), edited by Andreas Eichhorn; Popular Adaptations, 1927-1950 (edited by Charles Hamm); and Zaubernacht (edited by Elmar Juchem and Andrew Kuster).