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Kurt Weill: A Detailed Chronology 1900-1918

This chronology lists Weill's works, records key events in his life, and tracks most of his moves and travels. Works are generally listed under the dates of their premieres followed by date of composition and collaborators in parentheses. If the work was not performed during Weill's lifetime, it is listed under its date of composition. Only the most significant unrealized projects are mentioned. Doubtful dates are noted with a question mark.

2 March 1900
Kurt Julian Weill born to Albert Weill (January 2, 1867-December 30, 1950) and Emma Ackermann Weill (December 15, 1872-June 22, 1955), Leipziger Strasse 59, Dessau, Germany. The third of four children: Nathan (January 8, 1898-July 17, 1957), Hans Jakob (January 14, 1899-March 1, 1947), Ruth (October 6, 1901-December 24, 1972). The family traces its roots to Juda (c. 1360) and his son Jakob Weil (c. 1390), a rabbi in Nürnberg, Augsburg, Bamberg, and Erfurt.

1904
Attends Fröbel-Kindergarten on Fürstenstra?e. The Weill family moves from their residence at Franzstrasse 45 (where they moved in 1902) to Muldstrasse 20.

1906
Starts elementary school.

Spring 1907
Weill family moves to quarters in first floor of the Jewish community center, which adjoins the new synagogue on Steinstrasse.

1909
Attends Herzogliche Friedrichs-Oberrealschule (secondary school). His music teacher is August Thiele and his German teacher is Dr. Max Preitz.

1912-1913
Studies piano with synagogue organist Franz Brückner and, later, with Margaret Schapiro.

1913
First surviving compositions:

"Mi Addir: Jüdischer Trauungsgesang."
"Es blühen zwei flammende Rosen." Song fragment.

1914
"Ich weiss wofür" (Guido von Güllhausen).

"Reiterlied" (Hermann Löns).

Autumn 1914
Joins the nationalist youth group Dessauer Feldkorps.

1915-1917
Studies piano and theory with Albert Bing, a former student of Hans Pfitzner. His wife Edith is the sister of the Expressionist playwright Carl Sternheim. The Bings later become "second parents" to Kurt Weill.

1915
"Gebet" (Emanuel Geibel), Dessau. Four-part chorale composed for sister Ruth's confirmation.

January 1915
Earliest known public performance by Weill: "Für uns", Dessauer Feldkorps.

December 1915
Performs a Chopin prelude and the third nocturne from Liszt's Liebesträume in a recital at his school in Dessau.

1916
"Sehnsucht" (Joseph von Eichendorff).

Ofrahs Lieder (Spring 1916-September 1916, Jehuda Halevi). A cycle of five songs. The date of the first performance is unknown. (Weill later considered this to be his starting point as a composer.)

Zriny, opera after the play by Theodor Körner (lost).

"Im Volkston" (Arno Holz).

Gives piano lessons to Duke Friedrich's niece and nephews.

1917
"Volkslied" (Anna Ritter).

"Das schöne Kind" (author unknown).

Employed as a volunteer accompanist and coach at the Dessau Court Theater. Undertakes intensive studies in conducting, orchestration, and score-reading with Albert Bing. Shows an avid interest in literature and philosophy and is reading Hermann Bang, Otto Julius Bierbaum, Richard Dehmel, Goethe, Sven Hedin, Hendrik Ibsen, Else Lasker-Schüler, Alois Riehl, Rainer Maria Rilke, Romain Rolland, Shakespeare, and Friedrich Theodor Vischer.

March 1917
Appears in concert with Emilie Feuge in Cöthen. The program includes the "Liebestod" from Tristan and songs by Jensen and Grieg. Weill is writing fugues for music teacher Mr. Köhler, who finds them "too modern, too chromatic," but free of mistakes and full of musical ideas.

April 1917
Begins taking piano lessons every other day, practicing in the morning and composing in the afternoons. The piano lessons include etudes by Moscheles, Bach chorales in four clefs, and score-reading from Tristan. He is reading novels by Albert Brachvogel, Hermann Bang, and Emile Zola and looks forward to the end of the war with anticipation. During this month he is particularly taken with performances of Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel and Bruckner's Symphony no. 4.

May 1917
Weill's brother Nathan is called to the front lines. Weill studies Fidelio. He is reading novels by Björnstjerne Björnson.

July 1917
Visits relatives in Bad Kreuznach, Mannheim, Wiesloch, and Heidelberg with sister Ruth.

August 1917
Conducts a student orchestra, directs a male chorus, and performs with the Cöthener Jungwehr Musik. He begins taking trumpet lessons in the hopes of being placed in a military band if he is drafted.

October 1917
Studies Rigoletto with Bing.

November 1917
Attends Die Schneider von Schönau by Jan Brandts-Buys and Hamlet starring Alexander Moissi.

December 1917
Piano studies include a Brahms sonata and Chopin etudes.

Intermezzo, piano solo.

Visits Hans at the end of the month in Halberstadt.

6 February 1918
"Maikaterlied" and "Abendlied" (April 1917-January 1918, Otto Julius Bierbaum) Saal des Evang. Vereinshauses, Dessau, Clara Ossent and Gertrud Prinzler.

March 1918
Andante aus der As-dur Sonate von C.M. von Weber, orchestration exercise.

Performs in a concert in Cöthen and attends Rappelkopf by Ferdinand Raimund and Tolstoy's Macht der Finsternis starring Moissi and Max Pallenberg. Weill has become thoroughly acquainted the standard operatic repertoire, especially Wagner.

Finishes studies at Herzogliche Friedrichs-Oberrealschule in Dessau and travels to Berlin to make arrangements for his further education.

1945-1950 | 1918-1924