Weill’s career in music is celebrated in the U.K. with a new radio documentary as the new year begins. The half-hour program features the voices of Weill and Lenya, short clips from performances of many Weill works, from “Mack the Knife” to Symphony no. 2 to Street Scene, and personal reflections on Weill from Ute Lemper. The program is anchored by commentary from Weill authorities Stephen Hinton, James Holmes, and Kim H. Kowalke. Veteran BBC producer Llinos Jones came up with the idea and has combined the elements into an informative and appealing whole.
The focus stays firmly on Weill’s music, as Hinton and Holmes explore Weill’s connections to Mahler and Gershwin as well as musical trends and styles of the early twentieth century. Jones uses recordings of Weill’s own voice to establish his devotion to adopted country (he became a U.S. citizen in 1943, ten years after fleeing Nazi Germany). The program also discusses Weill’s extraordinary stature as a theatrical innovator in Germany and in the U.S., and his importance to the study of the Jewish and exile communities as well.
The first broadcast of “Speak Low, Speak Weill” is set for Saturday, 3 January 2015 at 3:30 p.m. GMT on BBC Radio 4. The documentary will remain available online through BBC iPlayer for two weeks after broadcast. Listen to it here.