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Kurt Weill: A Detailed Chronology 1929-1933

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.

During 1929, popular recordings and salon-jazz arrangements of songs from Die Dreigroschenoper are issued.

7 February 1929
Kleine Dreigroschenmusik für Blasorchester (December 1928-January 1929). Staatsoper am Platz der Republik (Kroll), Berlin, Preussische Staatskapelle; Otto Klemperer, conductor.

6 March 1929
Supervises the first production of Die Dreigroschenoper in Vienna. In 1929, the work has 46 premieres in Germany as well as productions in Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Finland, and the USSR.

April-May 1929
Composes the first version of Der Lindberghflug. Weill and Paul Hindemith each set roughly half of Brecht's text.

Weill hopes to form a touring troupe for the purposes of presenting Mahagonny Songspiel, Das Berliner Requiem, and Der Lindberghflug in a new form between concert and theater.

22 May 1929
Das Berliner Requiem (November-December 1928, Bertolt Brecht). Frankfurt Radio; Ludwig Rottenberg, conductor.

May-June 1929
Vacations at Hostellerie de la Plage, St. Cyr sur Mer, France, and works on Happy End.

June 1929
Hindemith's Neues vom Tage is played at the Krolloper. Throughout the summer and fall, Weill and Universal Edition attempt to convince Klemperer and the Kroll to produce Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny.

27 July 1929
Der Lindberghflug (1929, original version with Paul Hindemith, text by Bertolt Brecht). Kurhaus, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra; Hermann Scherchen, conductor. Neither Weill nor Hindemith is pleased with the result. Weill had already decided to set the entire text himself.

September 1929
Universal Edition publishes the Song Album, which contains six previously unpublished songs.

2 September 1929
Happy End (June-August 1929, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht; play by Elisabeth Hauptmann and Brecht). Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin; Theo Mackeben, conductor, Erich Engel, director. The success of Die Dreigroschenoper is not repeated, and the play closes after a handful of performances. Universal Edition does not publish a vocal score. The work is not revived until 1958.

early October 1929
Weill considers writing songs for "Apollo-Brunnenstrasse," a play by Stefan Grossmann with lyrics by Franz Hessel. Hans Heinsheimer of Universal Edition discourages him, and Weill drops the project.

November 1929
"Die Legende vom toten Soldaten" and "Zu Potsdam unter den Eichen" (1929, Bertolt Brecht). Berliner Schubertchor; Karl Rankl, conductor. ("Zu Potsdam unter den Eichen" is arranged from the orginal version written for Das Berliner Requiem.)

December 1929
Weill attempts to get the rights to Jaroslav Hasek's novel Good Soldier Schweik to set as an opera with a libretto by Brecht. Difficulties in dealing with Hasek's heirs doom the project; by June 1930 Weill has given up the idea.

5 December 1929
Der Lindberghflug/Der Ozeanflug (September-November 1929, second version with music entirely by Weill). Staatsoper am Platz der Republik (Krolloper); Otto Klemperer, conductor.

February 1930
Travels to Leipzig two weeks prior to the premiere of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. Lenya records two songs from the opera for Ultraphon, conducted by Theo Mackeben.

March 1930
The Deutsches Theater, run by Max Reinhardt, takes an option on Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny to give the first Berlin performance. Despite Weill's high hopes, it becomes clear by the end of October that the opera will not be performed there.

9 March 1930
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1927-30, Bertolt Brecht). Neues Theater, Leipzig; Gustav Brecher, conductor, Walther Brügmann, director. The premiere performance is interrupted by political demonstrations, and subsequent performances continue under close police supervision.

28 March 1930
American premiere of the Violin Concerto, op. 12, under Fritz Reiner in Cincinnati with violinist Emil Heermann.

April 1930
Universal Edition publishes "Sieben Stücke nach der Dreigroschenoper," arranged for violin and piano by Stefan Frenkel. Weill presents a Mahagonny radio program in Berlin.

24 June 1930
Der Jasager (January-May 1930, Bertolt Brecht). Zentralinstitut für Erziehung und Unterricht, Berlin; Kurt Drabek, conductor, with singers taken from the Staats-Akademie für Kirchen- und Schulmusik and other Berlin schools. After the Festival for New Music rejects Brecht and Eisler's Die Massnahme, Weill withdraws Der Jasager in protest. It is premiered independently of the Festival as a "counter-event." The work is immensely successful and is subsequently performed in schools all over Germany. In November, Weill discourages a performance at the Krolloper with Klemperer, at least until the work is firmly established in the school setting.

Summer 1930
Temporary end of Weill's collaboration with Brecht because of growing aesthetic and political differences.

21 July 1930
Travels to London and stays at the Bushy Hall Hotel; the reason for this visit is unknown.

26 July 1930
Travels to Unterschondorf (Ammersee) to work with Brecht, possibly on the film version of Die Dreigroschenoper.

August 1930
Weill is considering settings of Jack London and an opera based upon an unspecified work by Franz Kafka. Begins work on a new opera libretto with Caspar Neher, which becomes Die Bürgschaft.

Autumn 1930
Der Jasager "Neue Fassung." (Autumn 1930). Two new interpolations are included in a performance at the Karl-Marx School, Berlin-Neukölln.

October 1930
The Frankfurt performances of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny are accompanied by Nazi disturbances.

October-November 1930
Weill and Brecht take legal action against the Nero-Tobis company for breach of contract arising from unauthorized changes made to Die Dreigroschenoper in the film version to be directed by G.W. Pabst. Weill's complaint is upheld; Brecht's is rejected but the film company settles with him anyway; both collect damages.

December 1930
Ultraphon records songs from Die Dreigroschenoper with Kurt Gerron, Erich Ponto, Willy Trenk-Trebitsch, Erika Helmke, Lenya, and the Lewis Ruth Band conducted by Theo Mackeben. Despite the fact that they were made over two years after the premiere and involved several new performers, these recordings have frequently been miscalled original cast recordings.

6 February 1931
Mann ist Mann, incidental music for the 1931 Berlin production of Bertolt Brecht's play. Partly missing. Berlin Staatstheater; Brecht and Ernst Legal, directors.

6? February 1931
Weill signs a final settlement agreement with Tobis Films.

mid-February 1931
Spends a couple of weeks at the Hotel und Terrassen Wang, Brückenberg-Riesengebirge to recuperate after the end of the settlement of his lawsuit with Nero-Tobis.

19 February 1931
Premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper film directed by G.W. Pabst, in Berlin.

April 1931
Considers a large-scale choral composition for David Joseph Ball, pioneer of the Austrian Workers' Music movement. He considers a piece inspired by Jack London's General Strike, and proposes a collaboration with Brecht. Lack of time and quarrels with Brecht put an end to the project.

4 April 1931
American premiere of Der Lindberghflug, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

May-June 1931
Vacations with Lenya at the Provence Hotel, Le Lavandou, France. They travel by car through Spain, meeting Caspar Neher for ten days in Zaraux (near San Sebastian) for work on Die Bürgschaft. Returning to Berlin via Paris, they stay at the Hotel Astor. Weill, concerned by the worsening political situation, opens a Swiss bank account.

August-November 1931
Lenya travels to Russia to act in a film directed by Erwin Piscator. By this time Weill is romantically involved with Erika Neher (Caspar Neher's wife).

October 1931
Buys a house as a birthday present for Lenya at Wissmannstrasse 7 (now called Käthe-Kollwitz-Strasse) in Kleinmachnow, an area in southwest Berlin. Finishes orchestrating Die Bürgschaft.

21 December 1931
Weill's revised version of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny opens for a commercial run at Theater am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin. Weill revises some numbers to accommodate Lenya and other singing actors in the cast. Quarrels with Brecht in the course of rehearsals.

January 1932
Electrola records "Querschnitt aus der Oper Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny" conducted by Hans Sommer.

11 January 1932
Karl Kraus presents a lecture about Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at his series "Theater der Dichtung." Weill plays excerpts on the piano.

March 1932
Moves into the new house in Kleinmachnow (Berlin-Zehlendorf). Lenya and Weill are now estranged, but Weill registers the deed in Lenya's name.

10 March 1932
Die Bürgschaft (1930-31, Caspar Neher). Berlin Städtische Oper; Fritz Stiedry, conductor, Carl Ebert, director. The opera premieres in the spotlight of direct political attack from the Nationalist and Nazi press. Weill's most ambitious work to date, it becomes a rallying point for the remaining defenders of the Republic's artistic freedom.

April-May 1932
Discusses with Caspar Neher and Universal Edition three project ideas: a cantata for workers' choirs, a new genre of operas for amateurs, and small-scale operas without chorus for commercial theaters.

26 April 1932
Attends the first Viennese performance of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, with Lotte Lenya as Jenny. During rehearsals Lenya meets a singer named Otto Pasetti (who plays Jimmy) and stays in Vienna to live with him.

June 1932
Proposes four projects to impresario and director Erik Charell for a series of international productions intended for Vienna, Paris, London, and Berlin. The plan, which eventually involved Caspar Neher and Georg Kaiser, never materialized.

August 1932
Begins composing Der Silbersee to a text by Georg Kaiser.

7 November 1932
Writes to Universal Edition that he has received a commission from the princesse de Polignac in Paris to compose an orchestral work.

11 December 1932
Acclaimed performance at the Salle Gaveau in Paris of Mahagonny Songspiel (with four additional numbers from Aufstieg) and Der Jasager conducted by Maurice Abravanel with Lenya and Pasetti performing. The concert is sponsored by Vicomte Charles de Noailles and Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles. Weill investigates further commissions while in Paris.

early 1933
Lenya begins divorce proceedings against Weill in Germany.

January 1933
Composes the first movement of Symphony no. 2.

18 February 1933
Der Silbersee (August 1932-33, Georg Kaiser). Altes Theater, Leipzig; Gustav Brecher, conductor; Detlef Sierck, director. Simultaneous premieres in Erfurt and Magdeburg.

22 February 1933
The Nazis demonstrate at the second performance of Der Silbersee in Magdeburg, and Weill is subjected to anti-Semitic attacks. He is also asked to resign from a film project for Tobis.

4 March 1933
The last public performance of any work by Weill (Der Silbersee) in Germany until 1945. In early March Lenya and Louise Hartung pack some of Weill's belongings from the house on Wissmannstrasse and drive Weill to Munich, where they presumably went to await the outcome of the 5 March elections. Lenya proceeds to Vienna, and Weill returns to Berlin, where he presumably first stays in a hotel in Charlottenburg and then moves to the Nehers' house.

21 March 1933
Potsdam Day. Weill flees Berlin by car with Caspar and Erika Neher, arriving in Paris on 23 March. He stays first at the Hôtel Jacob and the Hôtel Splendide, and soon moves to the home of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, 11 place des Etats-Unis.

3 April 1933
Universal Edition cuts Weill's monthly stipend in half.

4 April 1933
Contracts with art patron Edward James to write a ballet score for the troupe "Les Ballets 1933." Weill tries to interest Jean Cocteau in writing a libretto for a ballet chanté. When Cocteau declines, James suggests Brecht as author, and Weill agrees. Weill and Cocteau decide to collaborate on a Faust opera in a modern setting.

5 April 1933
Meets Lenya in Nancy and offers her and Pasetti parts in Die sieben Todsünden.

mid-April 1933
Brecht arrives in Paris from Carona, Switzerland; together he and Weill write Die sieben Todsünden on a scenario by Edward James.

13 April 1933
American premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper in an English translation by Gifford Cochran and Jerrold Krimsky, Empire Theater, New York. The production closes on 24 April after only 12 performances.

June 1933
Baron Florian von Pasetti tries to get some of Weill's money out of Germany. Members of Hitler Youth burn Weill's music in public demonstrations.

7 June 1933
Die sieben Todsünden (Bertolt Brecht). Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, and June 30-July 15, 1933, Savoy Theatre, London; Maurice Abravanel, conductor, George Balanchine, choreographer. This is the first work by Weill to be produced in England. Weill left Paris for Italy a week after the opening. A concert of the "Paris version" of Mahagonny and Kleine Dreigroschenmusik is presented on 20 June at the Salle Gaveau.

13 June-August 1933
Vacations in Italy (Alassio, Positano, Rome, Florence) while Die sieben Todsünden plays in London.

18 June 1933
Asks Universal Edition to send copies of his published vocal scores to his brother Hans in Mannheim.

September 1933
"Es regnet" (after a German text by Jean Cocteau) and "Der Abschiedsbrief" (Erich Kästner), Paris. Written for Marlene Dietrich in response to a request for revue and recording material.

3 September 1933
Weill is again living at the Hôtel Splendide, Paris.

18 September 1933
Divorce from Lotte Lenya is finalized in Potsdam.

late September 1933
Weill and Universal Edition begin to negotiate a release from his contract.

31 October 1933
Signs a new publishing agreement with Heugel, Paris, which guarantees an advance of 4,000 French francs per month.

3 November 1933
La grand complainte de Fantômas (Robert Desnos). Radio Paris; Alejo Carpentier, conductor; Antonin Artaud, director. Largely missing.

19 November 1933
Weill and Universal Edition come to agreement on the termination of his contract. Universal Edition retains the rights in the works they have published to date.

23 November 1933
Writes to Lenya from his new apartment: 9 bis place Dreux, Louveciennes (outside of Paris).

26 November 1933
In Paris, Weill is subjected to a pro-Hitler, anti-Semitic demonstration, led by composer Florent Schmitt at a concert of three songs from Der Silbersee, conducted by Maurice Abravanel. Lenya sells the house in Berlin and sends Weill some furniture in Paris.

24 December 1933
Travels to Rome for a production of the "Paris version" of Mahagonny and Der Jasager (December 29).

1925-1928 | 1934-1940