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Kurt Weill: A Detailed Chronology 1945-1950

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.

June 1945
Returns to New York from Hollywood and begins developing new projects, among them a musical based on the life of Joseph Jefferson with Maxwell Anderson and George Cukor.

15 August 1945
First post-war performance of Die Dreigroschenoper in Germany, at the Hebbel-Theater, Berlin.

August-November 1945
Down in the Valley, version for radio (Arnold Sundgaard). Maurice Abravanel conducted an audition recording, but it was never broadcast; revised April 1948 (see below).

November 1945
Begins collaborating with Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes on Street Scene and starts composing music for it in January. Weill had already made outlines for a musical version of Riceís play with Maxwell Anderson. Hires Irving Swifty Lazar to be his Hollywood agent, replacing Arthur Lyons.

30 December 1945
The Theatre Guild on the Air broadcasts a radio adaptation of Knickerbocker Holiday on ABC.

January-March 1946
Two songs from the unfinished musical Ulysses Africanus are used in tryouts of Maxwell Anderson's play Truckline Café in Schenectady and Baltimore, although they are not performed during the Broadway run, which lasts only thirteen performances. The songs are Savannah and "Don't Cry" (listed in Drew's Handbook as "In an old time far away and long ago" and "Here's how it is when you're going away," respectively). Weill helps to audition singers in January and travels to the tryouts in February.

10 May 1946
Kiddush, for cantor, chorus and organ, completed March 16, 1946. Park Avenue Synagogue, New York; Cantor David Putterman, soloist.

31 July 1946
Elected as the first composer and new member in the Playwrights' Company since its inception in 1938. Weill spends all year working on Street Scene; the Playwrights' Company acts as co-producer.

5 September 1946
A Flag is Born (August 1946, music for a pageant by Ben Hecht) Alvin Theatre, New York; Isaac van Grove, conductor, Luther Adler, director. Sponsored by the American League for a Free Palestine. The production ran for a total of fifteen weeks on Broadway and then tours to five American cities.

November 1946
Die Dreigroschenoper receives its first U.S. performance since 1933 in an English translation by Desmond Vesey at the University of Illinois. Weill does not attend.

9 January 1947
Street Scene (1946, book by Elmer Rice, lyrics by Rice and Langston Hughes). Adelphi Theatre, New York; Maurice Abravanel, conductor, Charles Friedman, director. 148 performances.

March 1947
Weillís brother Hans dies of kidney disease on 1 March. First discussions with Alan Jay Lerner about a collaboration.

6 April 1947
Receives a special Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for distinguished achievement in the theater during the inaugural year of the awards. Although there was no award category for best score at the time, the award was undoubtedly made for the score of Street Scene.

6 May 1947
Leaves New York on the S.S. Mauretania for London via Liverpool, traveling from there by plane and train to Paris, Geneva, Rome, Cairo, Palestine, back to Paris, London, and New York. This is his first trip to Europe since his departure from France in 1935 and the first meeting with his parents since January 1934. While in Paris and London he tries to arrange performances for several of his American works.

June 1947
Discusses with Herman Wouk an adaptation of his novel Aurora Dawn.

12 June 1947
Returns to New York and holds an angry post-mortem at the Playwrights' Company on the closing of Street Scene (May 17), which in his view was unwarranted.

July 1947
Begins work on Love Life with Alan Jay Lerner.

late August 1947
Brecht writes from Hollywood inviting Weill to write the music for the first production of Schweyk im 2. Weltkrieg. Brecht also reports on the recent Losey-Laughton production of Galileo and mentions plans for a Swedish film version of Die Dreigroschenoper, which, he hopes, will pay for his forthcoming trip to Zurich.

September 1947
The production of Love Life is postponed until spring, and Weill declines Brecht's invitation to compose music for Schweyk im 2. Weltkrieg.

19 October 1947
The Theatre Guild on the Air broadcasts a 45-minute radio version of Lady in the Dark on ABC Radio.

27 October 1947
Weill and Maxwell Anderson sign a protest against the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings. Brecht testifies before the Committee on 30 October and leaves for Switzerland the next day. Caspar Neher discusses a production of Die Bürgschaft with the Vienna Staatsoper.

25 November 1947
Hatikvah (Israeli national anthem), arranged for full orchestra. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky, conductor. The occasion is a testimonial dinner for Chaim Weizmann, who had asked Weill to prepare the orchestration.

early Spring 1948
Hans Heinsheimer, now director of publications at Schirmer, approaches Weill with a request for a school opera like Der Jasager for production by the opera department of the Indiana University School of Music; Weill offers to adapt his unpublished radio opera Down in the Valley with librettist Arnold Sundgaard.

15 July 1948
Down in the Valley (stage version, revised 1948, Arnold Sundgaard). Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; Ernst Hoffmann, conductor; Hans Busch (son of Fritz Busch), director. Weill and Lenya attend the premiere with Alan Jay Lerner. Lerner's wife, Marion Bell, plays Jennie.

7 August 1948
Down in the Valley is broadcast on NBC Radio.

7 October 1948
Love Life (July 1947-January 1948, July-August 1948, Alan Jay Lerner). Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, New York; Joseph Littau, conductor; Elia Kazan, director. 252 performances.

24 October 1948
Universal Edition expresses an interest in representing Street Scene in Germany. Weill and Lerner write a treatment for a film musical called Miss Memory. The film version of One Touch of Venus starring Ava Gardner, directed by William A. Seiter, and produced by Lester Cowan for Universal-International, opens in New York on October 28.

November 1948
Hoping to sell the film rights to Love Life, Weill and Lerner travel to Hollywood for a rest and to pursue new projects, including Miss Memory and a film treatment by Weill himself called I Married a King. Weill writes to Lenya that the movie business is almost dead, with only MGM and 20th Century Fox still making musicals. He returns to New York on November 29.

December 1948
The Festival Musicale di Venezia contacts Weill about a possible production of the Paris version of Mahagonny Songspiel. Weill tries unsuccessfully to persuade them to do Street Scene instead.

January 1949
Begins work on Lost in the Stars with Maxwell Anderson.

January-February 1949
Disagrees with Brecht about updating the text and music for Die Dreigroschenoper. Demands clarification of the publishing rights.

6 February 1949
Attends a concert performance of Street Scene at the 92nd St. Y in New York, conducted by Maurice Levine.

31 March 1949
Broadcast on NBC Television of The Swift Show, a variety show on which Weill appears. He gives a brief interview to host Lanny Ross and plays the piano as Ross sings a chorus of September Song. Next both are joined by Martha Wright for a rendition of Here I'll Stay from Love Life, then running on Broadway.

May-June 1949
Discusses with Maxwell Anderson an adaptation of his play The Wingless Victory for baritone Laurence Tibbett.

July 1949
Collapses on Alan Jay Lerner's tennis court. He recovers quickly and swears Lerner to secrecy about the attack.

30 July 1949
Maurice Abravanel conducts excerpts from Street Scene and a Symphonic Nocturne from Lady in the Dark arranged by Robert Russell Bennett at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City.

21 August 1949
A concert performance of Street Scene is given at the Hollywood Bowl under conductor Izler Solomon.

27 October 1949
Attends an English-language performance of Der Zar lässt sich photographieren conducted by Kurt Adler and staged by Dino Yannopoulos for the Metropolitan Opera Studio, Juilliard School of Music, New York.

30 October 1949
Lost in the Stars (Maxwell Anderson). Music Box Theatre, New York; Maurice Levine, conductor, Rouben Mamoulian, director. 281 performances, followed by a tour of ten cities.

January 1950
Writes to Brecht of his plans to visit Europe with Lenya in the spring.

14 January 1950
Down in the Valley is broadcast on NBC-TV, one of the first music theater works to be produced for television. Weill supervises the production.

January-March 1950
Works with Maxwell Anderson on a plot outline and five songs for a musical adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Unfinished.

17 March 1950
Suffers heart attack at Brook House and two days later is taken by ambulance to Flower Hospital in New York City.

3 April 1950
Dies, Flower Hospital, New York.

5 April 1950
Buried, Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.

10 July 1950
Memorial concert for Weill in New York's Lewisohn Stadium with a eulogy by Maxwell Anderson.

1941-1945 | 1900-1918