First Ever Broadway Critical Edition

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and European American Music Corporation are pleased to announce the publication of the first critical edition of a Broadway musical, Kurt Weill’s and Ira Gershwin’s The Firebrand of Florence. Edited by the music theorist and Broadway scholar Joel Galand, the new publication finally makes available for the first time the complete score and libretto of one of Weill’s most expansive musical offerings. Published in two volumes with an accompanying critical report volume, The Firebrand of Florence constitutes the third publication in the Kurt Weill Edition, a collected critical edition of his completed works.

After the original Broadway run in 1945 in a lavish spectacle produced by Max Gordon, The Firebrand of Florence disappeared into undeserved obscurity, despite the fact that the work boasted a score by Weill, lyrics by Gershwin, and a book by Edwin Justus Mayer, esteemed playwright and screenwriter for numerous films, including To Be or Not To Be. In the mid-1990s, highlights from Firebrand based on original source material were included in two recorded compilations of Weill’s Broadway music. But not until three recent presentations–a 1999 staged production at Ohio Light Opera and two concert versions in 2000 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London and by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna–have contemporary audiences been able to experience this work in its entirety. These performances, which were based on a preliminary version of the now completed critical edition, played to critical acclaim and suggest a future for Firebrand beyond that of a curiosity for Broadway specialists.

After The Firebrand of Florence closed, Weill moved on to other projects and left no further indication as to the form in which Firebrand might be transmitted for future use. Therefore, the editor was called upon to evaluate various sources illustrating the work’s collaborative evolution between its tryouts in Boston in 1945 and its subsequent staging on Broadway. Significant alterations in the form of cuts, reorchestrations, or reordering of musical sections, complicated the determination of which musical numbers should be included in the edition, and how. However, the critical report which accompanies the full score provides a comprehensive discussion of the existing sources, describes alternatives, and on the basis of the source evidence explains the editorial decision making process in concise prose.

A recording of the work from the BBC Symphony production under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis is scheduled to appear in 2003 on the Capriccio label. The next volumes in the Kurt Weill Edition, currently in production, are the critical edition of Weill’s chamber music, to be published at the end of 2002, and the one-act opera Der Protagonist, scheduled for publication in 2003.