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Kurt Weill: A Detailed Chronology 1918-1924

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 premiere 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.

April 1918
Moves to a pension on the Winterfeldplatz in western Berlin. Attends classes at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin and studies philosophy at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, where his teachers include Ernst Cassirer and Max Dessoir. With the consent of Albert Bing and his parents, he decides at the end of three months to concentrate on musical studies instead of medicine.

May 1918
Begins studies with Friedrich Koch and Engelbert Humperdinck; he describes himself as ahead of his fellow students in the areas of piano, score-reading, organ, conducting, and theory, but behind in improvisation and counterpoint. Accepts the position of choir director of the Religionsgemeinde Friedenau, begins accompanying at Stern's Conservatory, and immerses himself in Berlin's cultural life.

June 1918
Piano studies include Bach suites and score reading of Beethoven symphonies.

July 1918
Spends term break in Dessau.

August 1918
Prepares the synagogue chorus in Berlin Friedenau for Yom Kippur services.

September 1918
Begins full-time studies at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin. His teachers include Paul Juon and Humperdinck (composition), Koch (counterpoint), and Rudolf Krasselt (conducting). Weill's reading includes Auch Einer by Friedrich Theodor Vischer and Novellen um Claudia by Arnold Zweig. He also begins informal violin lessons.

String Quartet in B Minor (1917-18).

October 1918
Visits family in Dessau. In Berlin, hears Richard Strauss conduct his Ein Heldenleben and attends a performance of Der Rosenkavalier.

December 1918
Spends Christmas vacation with his family in Dessau. The Novembergruppe is established in Berlin.

January 1919
Continues studies at the Hochschule für Musik where he remains until July.

March 1919
Orchestra Suite in E major (1918-March 1919).

March-July 1919
Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke, symphonic poem on a text by Rilke, Berlin. Manuscript lost.

July 1919
"Schilflieder" (Nikolaus Lenau). (May have been composed earlier.) Lost.

Despite winning a Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy scholarship for composition, Weill agrees with his parents that he should leave the Hochschule and gain more practical experience as a vocal coach and conductor, with the intention of continuing composition lessons with Hermann Wetzler in Cologne, or with Pfitzner in Munich.

August 1919
Visits the Convalescent Home Ebert, Benneckenstein im Harz, with his father. Returns to Dessau to accept with reluctance a post as Repetiteur at the Dessau Hofoper under Hans Knappertsbusch.

"Die stille Stadt" (Richard Dehmel).

September 1919
Accompanies Elisabeth Feuge singing his songs and works by others in highly successful recitals in Dessau, Cöthen, and Zerbst. The recital includes "Die stille Stadt."

December 1919
Upon a recommendation from Humperdinck, Weill begins a 6-month tenure as second Kapellmeister at the newly formed municipal theater in Lüdenscheid.

January 1920
Takes over the duties of the chief conductor at Lüdenscheid, where he is responsible for a mixed repertoire of operettas and popular opera.

April 1920
Conducts Die Fledermaus, Cavalleria Rusticana, Zigeunerbaron, and the premiere of an operetta in Lüdenscheid, all within two days.

15 May 1920
Travels to Leipzig where his father has accepted the directorship of the B'nai B'rith children's home. His parents live in the suburb of Kleinsteinberg.

22 June 1920
Accompanies Elisabeth Feuge in a recital sponsored by the Berend-Lehmann-Verein, Halberstadt, where his brother Hanns is responsible for musical activities.

Summer 1920
Negotiates for, but does not accept, a position at the summer theater in Norderney working under Arthur Kistenmacher, director of the Lüdenscheid theater.

Sonata for Violoncello and Piano (ca. Spring 1919-Summer 1920). Possible premiere: Hannover; Martin Meissner, cello, Albert Bing, piano, February 1921.

Ninon von Lenclos (1919-Summer 1920, one-act opera after the play by Ernst Hardt). Manuscript lost, probably unfinished.

Visits parents in Leipzig.

August-September 1920
Sulamith. "Chorfantasie" for soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Incomplete draft survives.

September 1920
Moves back to Berlin, first to Beerenstrasse 48 in Zehlendorf, then to Flensburger Strasse 11 in Lichterfelde.

"Weberlied I" and "Weberlied II" (Gerhart Hauptmann).

December 1920
Accepted to study in Ferruccio Busoni's master class at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin after Oskar Bie's recommendation in November.

6 March 1921
Delivers a lecture on Beethoven's life and work in Halberstadt, probably at the invitation of his brother Hans.

April-June 1921
Symphony in one movement (Sinfonie in einem Satz, later known as Symphony no. 1). A four-hand piano version is performed in Busoni's master class.

Langsamer Fox und Algi-Song. Two pieces, the first for piano solo, the second a parodic cabaret number. Possibly performed by Weill himself in the Bierkeller where he played piano.

Works as the choral conductor at a synagogue on Münchener Stra?e.

June 1921
Considers writing a dissertation (Doktorarbeit) on synagogue music, supervised by Max Friedlaender, and taking his exams in the fall.

July 1921
Officially begins composition studies with Ferruccio Busoni (some evidence points to an earlier date). Other students in the class are Luc Balmer, Erwin Bodky, Svetislav Stancic, and Vladimir Vogel. He later supplements composition studies with counterpoint lessons from Philipp Jarnach, who teaches him for several years without fee. Jarnach also arranges many of Weill's early performances.

October 1921
"Die Bekehrte" (Goethe), an assignment for Busoni's master class. Busoni makes his own setting as well.

November 1921
Rilkelieder, for piano and voice (Rainer Maria Rilke). Partly missing.

Begins composing Divertimento, op. 5.

1922
Psalm VIII. Composition date uncertain. Incomplete.

Spring 1922
Joins music division of the Novembergruppe.

Prepares piano reduction for Busoni's Divertimento for Flute and Orchestra, op. 52 (November 1921-22).

Winter 1922
Begins composing String Quartet, op. 8.

18 November 1922
Zaubernacht (Summer 1922, children's pantomime with scenario by Wladimir Boritsch). Theater am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin; George Weller, conductor; Franz Ludwig Hörth, director.

7 December 1922
Divertimento für kleines Orchester mit Männerchor (last movement only). Sing-Akademie; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Heinz Unger, conductor. Entire work: April 10, 1923, Berlin Philharmonic Hall; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Heinz Unger, conductor. The full score is lost.

1923-1926
From 1923 until 1926, Weill supplements his income by giving private theory and composition lessons. His students include Claudio Arrau, Nikos Skalkottas, and Maurice Abravanel.

12 March 1923
Fantasia, Passacaglia und Hymnus for Orchestra, op. 6. (February-May 1922) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Alexander Selo, conductor. The full score is lost.

14 June 1923
Quodlibet, op. 9 ("Orchestersuite aus der Kinderpantomime Zaubernacht"). Friedrich-Theater, Dessau; Albert Bing, conductor.

24 June 1923
String Quartet no. 1, op. 8 (1922-1923). Frankfurt Kammermusikwoche; Hindemith-Amar Quartet. The quartet becomes part of the repertory of the Roth Quartet, which performs it twice in Paris in 1924 and tours it throughout Spain.

September 1923
Recordare, op. 11 (Text: Lamentations V), Berlin. In 1925, Weill asked Universal Edition to suggest a performance of Recordare at the Donaueschingen music festival, but it is not performed there.

Begins composing Stundenbuch (Rilke), op. 13.

December 1923
Completes his third and last year in the master class; Busoni recommends Weill to Universal Edition (Vienna), with particular praise for his String Quartet, op. 8.

January 1924
Meets Expressionist playwright Georg Kaiser.

24 January 1924
Frauentanz, sieben Gedichte des Mittelalters, op. 10. (June-July 1923). Saal der Singakademie, Berlin; Nora Pisling-Boas, soprano; Fritz Stiedry, conductor.

February 1924
Begins work on Pantomime, scenario by Georg Kaiser. Unfinished. Partly lost.

February-March 1924
Visits Nelly Frank, Villa Bergfried, Davos, Switzerland. Makes extensive tour of Italy and meets with Universal-Edition in Vienna.

22 April 1924
Signs first publishing contract with Universal-Edition, Vienna.

May 1924
Moves to a new apartment in Berlin at Winterfeldstrasse 21.

Summer 1924
Meets Lotte Lenja at Georg Kaiser's home in Grünheide, a suburb east of Berlin. (She changes the spelling of her name to "Lenya" in 1937.)

27 July 1924
Death of Busoni.

August 1924
Kaiser and Weill stop work on a ballet pantomime they have begun and start on a one-act opera based on an earlier play of Kaiser's, Der Protagonist.

November 1924
Takes a job as the chief Berlin music correspondent for the weekly journal Der deutsche Rundfunk. The first issue containing his writing appears on November 30.

1900-1918 | 1925-1928