October 3, 2017: The 2017 Kurt Weill Prize for an outstanding book in music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Agnes de Mille: Telling Stories in Broadway Dance, by Kara Anne Gardner, published in the Oxford University Press Broadway Legacy Series, 2016. Offering readers an in-depth study of de Mille's ground-breaking choreographic work on the Broadway stage, the book includes a chapter on her involvement in the original production of One Touch of Venus (1943), by S.J. Perelman (book), Ogden Nash (book and lyrics), and Weill (music), and which starred Mary Martin in the title role. Gardner demonstrates how Weill and de Mille's similar views about the use of music (for Weill) and dance (for de Mille) as a means of storytelling made them especially compatible as collaborators. Gardner writes of their interactions, "She also found Kurt Weill, who treated her like an equal, to be a perfect partner." Adjudicated by a panel of music and theater experts, the award carries with it a cash prize of $5,000. The panelists described Gardner’s work as "a model of musical theater scholarship," and "a very impressive and important book that forcefully establishes Agnes de Mille's unique importance in Broadway theatre."
The $2,000 prize for an article recognized "Popularization or Perversion?: Folklore and Folksong in Britten's Paul Bunyan" by Suzanne Robinson, published in American Music in 2016. The prize panelists selected Robinson's article from a pool of fifty-two nominees, noting that it "illuminates a really significant issue within an important and unusual work." Robinson is an honorary fellow at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prizes recognize distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2015-2016 were eligible for the 2017 prize. Nominations were reviewed and the winning titles selected by a panel of music and theater experts. Past winners and guidelines for nominations for the 2019 prize can be found here.
If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Elizabeth Blaufox at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 x210 or .