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Elisabeth Hauptmann and Die Dreigroschenoper : A Chronology

Compiled by Dave Stein, Archivist of the Kurt Weill Foundation and Kim H. Kowalke, Professor Emeritus of Musicology, Eastman School of Music/University of Rochester and President, Kurt Weill Foundation for Music (1981- ), in collaboration with Verena Sich and Matthies van Eendenburg. All quoted excerpts are presented in original language. German quotations have been translated into English.


1897 June 20: Elisabeth Hauptmann born in Peckelsheim, Germany to a German father, the physician Dr. Clemens Hauptmann, and an American mother, aspiring pianist Josephine Diestelhorst Hauptmann. From her mother, Elisabeth learns English and receives musical training, including piano lessons. Her lifelong interest in literature begins in early childhood.

1918: Hauptmann completes teacher training at a school in Droyssig bei Zeitz. Soon after, she works as a private tutor for the Schliemann family near the Polish border.

1922: Hauptmann moves to Berlin, hoping to resume her academic studies. She takes jobs as a secretary to pay for further schooling.

1924 September: Bertolt Brecht settles in Berlin after several years splitting time among Augsburg, Munich, and Berlin.

1924 November: Hauptmann meets Brecht. He is impressed with her command of literature and her knowledge of English, and asks her to work with him. She takes on editorial and secretarial duties, and soon becomes Brecht’s regular partner to discuss his work. Newspaper clippings about American culture and current events that she collects later become important source material for Happy End and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. Hauptmann also helps Brecht work out ideas for musical settings of poems. (In her 1972 interview, Hauptmann noted, “da trafen wir uns jeden Vormittag … In Berlin hatte er lange niemanden für die Vormittage, dann kam ich. Ich konnte Klavier spielen … es wurden unendlich viele Songtexte gemacht mit Melodien. … Ja, natürlich, die Songs wurden aufgeschrieben.”) [We would meet every morning … Brecht had no one to work with in the mornings in Berlin for a long time, then I came. I could play the piano … Lots of lyrics with melodies were created. Yes, of course the songs were written down.]

1925-26: Hauptmann collaborates intensively with Brecht on Baal, Mann ist Mann, and Taschenpostille; she writes two poems in English, “Alabama-Song” and “Benares-Song,” for the “Mahagonny-Gesänge” in Taschenpostille; her work is not credited. Two manuscripts in the Brecht-Archiv (old shelfmark 451/60-61 and 451/84) evince Hauptmann’s authorship of the English lyrics. Brecht’s publisher Kiepenheuer employs her to help Brecht meet his contractual obligations to create books and plays for publication. Her roles include translator (with fluency in English and French), editor, and contributor to some of Brecht’s texts.

1927 March: Having reviewed a radio production of Mann ist Mann and read the newly published Hauspostille (an expanded version of the privately printed Taschenpostille), Kurt Weill meets Brecht.

1927 May 2: Weill informs Universal Edition that he intends to set Brecht’s “Mahagonny-Gesänge” to fulfill a commission from the Deutsche Kammermusik summer festival in Baden-Baden.

1927 July 17: Premiere of first Weill-Brecht collaboration, Mahagonny Songspiel, in Baden-Baden. Hauptmann’s lyrics to “Alabama-Song” and “Benares-Song” are not credited as such.

1927 late summer: Weill, Brecht, and Hauptmann begin near-daily work on the libretto of the full-length opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. Occasionally Lotte Lenya also participates: “When Kurt arrived for a serious work session, the disciples would depart—most often Elisabeth and I stayed on . . .” (Lenya, “That Was a Time,” Theatre Arts (May 1956), pp. 78-80, 92-93).

1927 December: Having learned of the great success of a recent revival of The Beggar’s Opera in London, Hauptmann orders a copy of the “ballad-opera,” which had premiered in 1728. She begins a German translation of the eighteenth-century original, written in highly stylized English. Her copy of the edition, published in London in 1921 by William Heinemann, contained the “MUSICK to each SONG,” melodies only. (The book is now in the Bertolt Brecht Archiv, shelfmark NBeh 276R.)

Her efforts succeeded in kindling Brecht’s interest in adapting it. In a letter to Peter Suhrkamp of 14 March 1957, Hauptmann wrote, “Ich mußte damals durch Auswahl bestimmter Szenen oder Situationen Brecht geradezu in die Arbeit an diesem Stück hineinlocken.” [Back then I had to lure Brecht into working on this play with a selection of certain scenes and situations.] (Original letter in Elisabeth-Hauptmann-Archiv [EHA], file no. 9.) Further, she recalled in her 1972 interview: “Man wußte, was er mochte und ich hab ihm die Szenen vorgelesen/rausgesucht, von denen ich wußte, daß er sie mag.” [One knew what he liked, and I chose and read to him the scenes that I knew he would enjoy.]

Hauptmann’s “Rohübersetzung” (rough translation) has not survived. In a letter to Wilhelm Rothenstein of 10 December 1965 (EHA file no. 551), she wrote, “Tatsache ist, dass ich an der ‘Dreigroschenoper’ mitgearbeitet habe, so wie ich auch an einer Reihe anderer Stücke von Bertolt Brecht mitgearbeitet habe. Das können Sie leicht in den 12 Bänden seiner ‘Stücke’ sehen, die ich auch herausgegeben habe. … Ich las damals in den Zeitungen von einer Londoner Aufführung des alten englischen Stücks ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ und beschaffte mir ein Exemplar. (Ich konnte ganz gut englisch und kannte mich auch mit englischer Literatur ganz gut aus.) Es gefiel mir, ich fing an, verschiedene Szenen zu übersetzen und auf meine Art zu bearbeiten, und als Brecht das dann sah, gefiel es ihm, und so kam es zu seiner Bearbeitung bzw. zur ‘Dreigroschenoper’ …” [The fact is, I collaborated on Die Dreigroschenoper, just as I collaborated on a whole series of his plays. You can see that easily in the twelve volumes of his plays, which I have edited. … At the time, I read of the London performance of The Beggar’s Opera in the newspapers and ordered a copy for myself. (I knew English well and was well acquainted with English-language literature.) I liked it, and I began translating this scene and that and adapting them in my fashion. Then Brecht saw what I had done and he liked it. That’s how it came to pass that he worked on adapting it into Die Dreigroschenoper.]

1928 March 9: Schott Musikverlag writes to Weill in response to a newspaper item reporting that he is working on an adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera. Weill replies affirmatively on 14 March (WLRC Ser.40). This is Weill’s first known mention of the project to a third party. Unless he did so in a face-to-face meeting, Weill did not announce the endeavor to Universal Edition until a letter of 4 June: “Unterdessen arbeite ich mit Hochdruck an der Komposition der Beggar’s-Opera, die mir viel Spass macht” (WLRC Ser.41) [Meanwhile I’m working full steam on the composition of Beggar’s Opera, which I’m having a lot of fun with.]

1928 April?: Novice producer Ernst Josef Aufricht meets Brecht and learns of “Des Bettlers Oper.” Upon reading the incomplete text-in-progress, Aufricht agrees to produce it. The work went through several other provisional titles (“Gesindel,” “Die Ludenoper”) before acquiring the title Die Dreigroschenoper very late in its genesis, by some reports only after rehearsals had begun and at the suggestion of someone in Brecht’s circle, whom Lenya identified as Lion Feuchtwanger: “Among the distinguished kibitzers who wandered in and out of the stalls, I remember only one who contributed a truly brilliant suggestion – novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger, who suggested a new title for the work: Die Dreigroschenoper” (see “That Was a Time,” p. 93).

1928 April 26: Weill and Brecht sign a contract with Felix Bloch Erben in Berlin for theatrical representation of a German adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera. Brecht’s share of royalties is to be 62-1/2%, Weill’s 25%. For her collaboration on the script (the contract specifies “die an dem Buch mitarbeitet” [who is collaborating on the book]), Hauptmann is accorded a 12-1/2% share.

1928 mid-May: Aufricht has scheduled the premiere of “Des Bettlers Oper” / “Die Ludenoper” for 28 August 1928 (later postponed to 31 August). Facing this deadline, Brecht and Weill meet in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer on the French Riviera for a working vacation to continue work on the play, especially the songs. Brecht travels by car and arrives (around) 11 May. Weill (together with Lenya) arrives at a later date, which is not exactly known. Weigel and their son Stefan are temporarily present. Weill leaves on 4 June. Brecht departs on 13 June. He drives via Geneva to Augsburg and then to Ammersee. At the beginning of July Brecht is back in Berlin (probably for around 2 weeks); at the end of July/beginning of August he stays again in Augsburg and Ammersee. Around 7 August he is back in Berlin.

1928 June 5: Bloch Erben signs an agreement with Weill’s publisher Universal Edition to resolve their conflicting claims to represent stage rights of Die Dreigroschenoper. They agree to co-publish the Textbuch, divide up licensing rights in European territories, and share income deriving from rental of performing materials.

1928 June: The earliest surviving draft of the play, entitled “Die Ludenoper,” preserves most of Gay’s characters as well as the outlines of his plot, but differs markedly from the first published libretto (October 1928). It still includes the character “Coaxer” (intended for Helene Weigel, who would withdraw because of appendicitis) and several songs that would subsequently be cut (including Hauptmann’s German translations/adaptations of poems by Kipling).

In the 1972 interview, Hauptmann recalled: “ich hab dann aber die Songs durchgesehen und habe gesagt, also die sollten wir nicht nehmen, nur die Melodie vom ersten, die fand ich so schön. Da hat Brecht dann jetzt die anderen Worte `Wach auf … du Christ’ … und das war ja alles für uns eine Überraschung, … zunächst haben wir das mal aus reinem Spaß gemacht.” [I had looked through the songs (of Beggar’s Opera) and said that we shouldn’t take those. I liked the melody of only the first one and then Brecht put in different words: “Wake up … you Christians …” It was all a great surprise for us….at first we had just done it merely for fun.] Indeed, the first vocal number in the “Ludenoper” draft, Peachum’s “Morgenchoral,” is a contrafactum of the first ballad in The Beggar’s Opera, “Through All the Employments of Life.” Hauptmann’s copy of Gay’s play includes that melody, which Weill retained without change but harmonized anew — as if the evening would indeed be just another modern realization of The Beggar’s Opera. (The “Moritat von Mackie Messer,” which would eventually be the first vocal number in Die Dreigroschenoper, was not added until the last minute.)

1928 August: Rehearsals for the premiere take place from 10 August onwards at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin. Extensive annotations, additions, and emendations in both Hauptmann’s and Brecht’s hands appear in one of two rehearsal scripts that have survived (used by the director’s assistant, Julius Halewicz) and inserted pages include drafts of Hauptmann’s translations of several Kipling poems for use as song lyrics. (In her edition of Kipling, preserved in the Brecht-Archiv, Hauptmann marked a poem titled “The Wishing Caps,” which contains a passage resembling the “Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit” from Act III of Die Dreigroschenoper; several scholars have noted the resemblances between Kipling’s “Screw Guns” and the “Kanonen-Song.”) Director Erich Engel’s rehearsal script still contains complete German translations of two additional airs from Gay, “Virgins are like fair flower” (“Sehet die Jungfraun und sehet die Blüte!”) and “A Fox may steal your hens, Sir” (“Wenns einer Hur gefällt, Herr”), which are likely Hauptmann’s original translations. Weill apparently did not set either one to music.

1928 August 31: Opening night. Authorial credits in the 4-page pamphlet program read: “Übersetzung [translation]: Elisabeth Hauptmann / Bearbeitung [adaptation]: Brecht / Musik [music]: Kurt Weill.” They appear on a separate page from that for the underlying work of John Gay: “Ein Stück mit Musik in einem Vorspiel und 8 Bildern nach dem Englischen des John Gay” [a play with music in a prologue and eight scenes based on the English of John Gay]. These credits, or slight variations thereof, are included in all subsequent publications and productions licensed by either Felix Bloch Erben until 1949 or Universal Edition in its territories until after the implementation of the 2011 EU copyright directive. Despite mixed reviews, the show creates a sensation and immediate demand for script and score.

1928 October – November: Universal Edition publishes a piano-vocal score (Klavierauszug) for Die Dreigroschenoper; Bloch Erben and UE co-publish a libretto (Textbuch) both for rental by theaters and for sale to the public. These are the first published manifestations of the complete work. The title-page credits differ only slightly from those printed in the Schiffbauerdamm program (see above): “Ein Stück mit Musik in einem Vorspiel und acht Bildern nach dem Englischen des John Gay / übersetzt von Elisabeth Hauptmann / deutsche Bearbeitung von Bert Brecht / Musik von Kurt Weill” [a play with music in a prologue and eight scenes based on the English of John Gay / translated by Elisabeth Hauptmann / German adaptation by Bert Brecht / music by Kurt Weill]. (Hauptmann’s creative credit again precedes Brecht’s and Weill’s, and it appears in equal font size and prominence.) Galley proofs of the Textbuch were corrected by Weill and Hauptmann, with numerous annotations in her handwriting. Hundreds of productions take place all over Europe and beyond in the next five years, all using these materials.

1928 November – December: Both the Klavierauszug and Textbuch are registered for copyright in the U.S. by Universal Edition (D For. 27412 and D unpub. 87169, respectively). For both registrations, Hauptmann is credited exactly as on the title pages (see above). Both copyrights were renewed in 1956.

1929 February?: In a letter, Brecht proposes to Hauptmann an idea for a new play for which he encourages her write the script. His outline features a criminal gang and the Salvation Army personifying the forces of evil and good, respectively. The new play, later titled Happy End, resembles Hauptmann’s previously published short story, “Bessie Soundso.”

1929 March 23: Hauptmann signs a contract with producer Ernst Josef Aufricht in which she agrees to grant him the premiere of her Happy End; the agreement also stipulates that Brecht and Weill will participate in creating songs for the new work. Years later, Hauptmann recalled that Brecht eventually also collaborated on the script, without credit; conversely, there is evidence in the manuscripts that evinces that Hauptmann had worked on the song lyrics, particularly the Salvation Army anthems.

1929 May 6: In a response published in the Berliner Börsen-Courier to an accusation that he had plagiarized K.L. Ammer’s German translation of Villon’s poems in Die Dreigroschenoper, Brecht admits to “grundsätzlichen Laxheit in geistigen Eigentum” [fundamental laxity in matters of intellectual property].

1929 May 11: Hauptmann signs a contract with Bloch Erben for stage representation of Happy End; she agrees to cede half of her authorial Happy End royalties to Brecht as lyricist (thus, each of the collaborators received one-third of the total royalties, as Weill had made his own agreements with Bloch Erben and UE).

1929 mid-July: Hauptmann writes to Erich Engel, director of Happy End, in reply to his letter suggesting improvements to the script (stored in AdK, Erich Engel papers, folder 152). This is her last known communication about Happy End before the premiere. For reasons that remain unclear and may have been wholly personal, Hauptmann apparently had little to do with rehearsing and rewriting Happy End after this point in its genesis.

1929 August: During rehearsals for Happy End, Engel and cast members complain that the third act is incomplete and inadequate. Brecht steps in to replace both author and director; he makes numerous revisions right up to the last minute.

Opening night program credits on 2 September 1929 ascribe the “Buch” to a pseudonymous “Dorothy Lane” rather than to Hauptmann per se, Brecht with “Songtexte,” and Weill “Musik.” The “comedy with music” opens to predominantly negative reviews and closes after thirty performances. Only three songs were published as sheet music by UE at the time, and Bloch Erben did not publish the script. The play was not revived until 1958, the success of which prompted Bloch Erben to generate a revised rental script and UE to issue a piano vocal score including all the songs except “Hosiannah Rockefeller.” In the 1970s and 80s Happy End would enjoy dozens of successful productions utilizing either the German revised script or a new English-language adaptation by Michael Feingold. In 1977 a Broadway production starring Meryl Streep garnered Tony nominations for Hauptmann/Feingold for “best book of a new musical,” Weill and Brecht for “best score of a new musical,” and the work as a whole for “best new musical.” (Happy End was “new” to Broadway and thus eligible for these awards.)

1929 December: Hauptmann’s German translation of Arthur Waley’s English version of the Japanese Noh play Taniko is published in the theater magazine Der Scheinwerfer. Weill thinks it could serve as the basis for a Schuloper (school opera); he and Hauptmann ask Brecht to adapt it into a libretto. Brecht begins work in January 1930; Weill creates the musical setting in the spring. The work is premiered as Der Jasager on 24 June 1930 in Berlin. It received hundreds of performances in German schools during the next two years. Most of Hauptmann’s translation remains unaltered in the final text. In a letter to Helene Weigel of 9 September 1957, Hauptmann wrote of Der Jasager, “der Text zu 75% (mindestens) von mir stammt und nicht von Brecht, was man an einem Abdruck meiner Übersetzung im Scheinwerfer nachsehen kann.” [(At least) 75% of the text came from me, not Brecht, as anyone can see by looking at my translation as printed in Der Scheinwerfer.]

Neither Hauptmann nor Waley is named in the program credits. However, the title page of the Klavierauszug published by Universal Edition reads, “Der Jasager / Schuloper in zwei Akten / nach dem japanischen Stück Taniko / englisch von Arthur Waley, deutsch von Elisabeth Hauptmann / von / Brecht / Musik von / Kurt Weill.” Der Jasager was the final product of the Weill-Brecht-Hauptmann collaboration.

In her 1972 interview, Hauptmann recalled, “ich hab seinerzeit doch dieses japanische Stück ‘Den Wurf ins Tal’ übersetzt und schon so ein bisschen bearbeitet … wenn Sie es sprachlich nehmen, rein von den Sätzen her, da können Sie, glaube ich, finden, daß da, ich weiß nicht, wieviel Prozent von meiner Übersetzung genommen ist, auch nachher etwas von dem Bearbeiteten. … Aber trotzdem hätte ich dabeisein müssen, nicht? genannt werden müssen … . und da hat sich alles so überschlagen in der Zeit, … da hab ich´s selber vergessen, meinen Namen da mit drunter zu nennen … der Brecht war ganz entsetzt, der hat gesagt, das ist mein Fehler, das ist meine Schuld.” [I can tell you that at the time I had translated this Japanese play “The Valley-Hurling” and had also started the adaptation … If you consider it linguistically, just the sentences, you can, I believe, find, I don’t know, how many percent of my translation had been used and then also part of what I had adapted. … But I still should have been added, right?, should have been credited … . everything went topsy-turvy at that time … then I myself forgot to add my name … Brecht was shocked; he said: “That’s my mistake, my fault.”]

1930 March 9: Premiere of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny in Leipzig. When the libretto is published in Brecht’s Versuche (1932), Hauptmann and Weill are credited at the end of the text as Mitarbeiter: “Brecht. Hauptmann. Caspar Neher. Weill.” Weill notes his (uncredited) collaboration on the libretto in “Anmerkungen zu meiner Oper Mahagonny,” published in Brecht/Weill “Mahagonny”, ed. Hennenberg and Knopf (Suhrkamp, 2006), p. 170: “Fast ein Jahr lang arbeiteten Brecht und ich gemeinsam an dem Textbuch der Oper” [Brecht and I worked together for nearly a year on the opera libretto]. Also see Weill’s letter to Universal Edition of 18 November 1927: “Ich arbeite täglich mit Brecht am Textbuch, das vollständig nach meinen Angaben geformt wird” [I’m working daily with Brecht on the libretto, which is being formed entirely according to my instructions] (reprinted in Kurt Weill, Briefwechsel mit der Universal Edition, ed. Nils Grosch (Metzler, 2002), p. 92).]

1931 December 21: Opening night of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. During rehearsals Weill and Brecht had quarreled over the primacy of music versus text. To avoid disruption of the production, Ernst Josef Aufricht leased a space for Brecht to mount Die Mutter, leaving Weill and Caspar Neher in charge of Mahagonny. Brecht and Weill’s collaboration would be resuscitated only briefly in 1933 in Paris for the ballet chanté, Die sieben Todsünden. Hauptmann did not participate, as she remained in Berlin.

1932 January: Kiepenheuer publishes the third volume (Heft 3) of Brecht’s “Versuche,” which contains a revised book and lyrics of Die Dreigroschenoper, as well as Die Beule (an unused screenplay for a film version of Die Dreigroschenoper) and Der Dreigroschenprozeß (an account of Brecht’s lawsuit against the film’s producer). Hauptmann helps to prepare this revised and expanded “literary edition” of the libretto of Die Dreigroschenoper; numerous annotations in her hand appear on the marked-up copy of the UE/Bloch Erben libretto that had served as the first draft of this new version. Because the expanded and altered text in the Versuche was not intended (at the time) to replace the 1928 stage version and Weill was not consulted in its compilation, Brecht and Hauptmann introduced many changes, some of which conflict with the 1928 score and performing materials. One example: a now much quoted speech, “Was ist ein Dietrich gegen eine Aktie? Was ist ein Einbruch in eine Bank gegen die Gründung einer Bank?,” [What is a picklock compared to a stock certificate? What is breaking into a bank compared to founding a bank?] was transplanted from Happy End to Act 3 of this revised Dreigroschenoper. The Versuche edition was not licensed for stage performances until 1949, and then without Weill’s knowledge or permission.

The front cover of Heft 3 of the Versuche bears only Brecht’s name. At the end of the Dreigroschenoper script, however, the credits read “Brecht. Hauptmann. Weill.” with no explanation of their respective roles in creating the work. Weill did not participate in the compilation of this version, so the credit must pertain to the original stage work itself. The editions of Dreigroschenoper and other works in the Versuche series reify the emergent “Brecht Collective” approach to authorship, whereby Brecht takes billing as “author.” Many works are the result of collaborations with one or more Mitarbeiter; some Mitarbeiter are also identified by Brecht in the “Anlage” to the 1949 contract with Suhrkamp (see 1949 Feb. 7 entry below).

Brecht awarded Hauptmann a “Mitarbeiter” credit on eight of the works included in the Versuche, 1929-1933, counting Der Jasager and Der Neinsager as one work. In 1972 she recalled that when Die Dreigroschenoper was to be printed in Kiepenheuer’s Versuche, “Da haben wir uns dann nur überlegt, wo stehen die Mitarbeiter? Und da haben wir uns darauf geeinigt, daß die hintenan stehen, das war aber ‘ne Überlegung von einer Minute. … Dann haben wir nur überlegt, ja wer hat denn nun wirklich ernsthaft was beigesteuert?” [We thought about where to recognize the collaborators. We agreed to do so at the end but that was a consideration of only one minute’s time … Then we thought about who was to be mentioned. Who had seriously added something?]

1932 June 18: In a letter to Universal Edition, Fritz Wreede of Bloch Erben writes, “Den Wunsch nach dem Verteilungsschlüssel hat Herr Weill mir auch schon übermittelt, und es wird ebenso wie bei Paris mein Amt sein, diesen Wunsch bei seinen Mitautoren durchzusetzen.” [Mr. Weill has already conveyed to me his wishes with respect to the royalty division. Just as in the case of Paris (presumably the 1930 production), it will be my job to persuade his co-authors.] Wreede’s plural reference to Weill’s “Mitautoren” can refer only to Brecht and Hauptmann; there were no other collaborators named in the contract, publications, or production credits. (Bloch Erben’s correspondence files relevant to Dreigroschenoper were destroyed during World War II; this letter survives in the archives of UE.)

Early 1933: Weill and Brecht independently express interest in traveling to the U.S. in order to oversee rehearsals for the premiere of The Threepenny Opera in New York. Weill informs Universal Edition of his “firm intention” to go, in a letter of 6 February. Apparently he is dissuaded by Fritz Wreede, the head of Bloch Erben, who recommends that neither Weill nor Brecht attend rehearsals, probably because he thinks they will create a nuisance (he also suspects that if one goes, the other will insist on going, which from his point of view would compound any problems, given the hostile relations between them.) The work opens on Broadway on 12 April and closes after just twelve performances.

1933 February 28: Brecht leaves Germany with Helene Weigel and their children. Hauptmann remains in Berlin, partly to safeguard Brecht’s books, drafts, and other papers.

1933 March 22: Weill flees Germany and spends two years in Paris and London. He will arrive in New York with Lenya in September 1935.

1933 December 10: Hauptmann departs Germany. She arrives in New York early in 1934 and soon moves to St. Louis to live with her sister. She continues to correspond with Brecht sporadically as he moves from Switzerland to Denmark to Sweden to Finland to the USSR, 1933-1941.

1935 August 18: In a letter of recommendation for the position of lecturer (Dozentin) at a school in Minsk, Brecht writes, “Die Genossin Elisabeth Hauptmann war ursprünglich als Lehrerin tätig, arbeitete dann als Übersetzerin englischer und französische Werke, besonders belletristischer Art, bis sie 1922 [sic] … zu mir kam. Sie war bald meine beste Mitarbeiterin. Sie besitzt eine außergewöhnliche sprachliche Begabung und hat aktiv und kritisch an allen meine dramatischen Arbeiten mitgearbeitet, auch selber Novellen geschrieben. … Sie hielt sich noch ein ganzes Jahr nach Hitlers Machtübernahme in Berlin, wo sie immerfort politisch tätig war. Sie hatte über zwanzig Haussuchungen und wurde dann verhaftet. Es gelang ihr, nach einige Tagen freizukommen, da man keine Beweise gegen sie hatte. … Sie ist einer der verläßlichsten und tüchtigsten Menschen, die ich kenne.” [Comrade Elisabeth Hauptmann originally worked as a teacher, then as a translator from English and French, especially belles-lettres, before she met me in 1922 [sic: see 1924 November entry above]. Soon she became my best collaborator. She has an extraordinary talent for languages and collaborated actively and critically in all of my dramatic works, and wrote stories of her own. … After Hitler’s takeover she stayed on in Berlin for one more year and remained politically active. She had to endure more than twenty house searches and then was arrested. After a couple of days, she succeeded in getting released, as there was no proof of any wrongdoing. … She is one of the most dependable and capable human beings I know.]

1935 Autumn: Hauptmann travels from St. Louis to New York to meet Brecht during his first trip to the U.S., to assist him with the staging of his play Die Mutter, music by Hanns Eisler. This is their first meeting since 1933.

1938: The Versuche text of Dreigroschenoper is republished by Malik-Verlag in London as part of a collected edition of Brecht’s works (“Gesammelte Werke”). Only Brecht’s name appears on the title page; now “E. Hauptmann” and “K. Weill” are credited as “Mitarbeiter” at the beginning of the text of Dreigroschenoper.

1941 Summer: Brecht and his family arrive in southern California. Hauptmann, now in New York, helps them arrange housing through her friends in California. She asks Weill to help Brecht financially. He agrees, despite Lenya’s cautions.

1943-44: In New York, Hauptmann works with Eric Bentley to prepare Brecht’s The Private Life of the Master Race for production. Bentley recalled later in his Brecht Memoir that she made substantial changes to the script, which Brecht routinely approved.

1945 August: The first post-war production of Die Dreigroschenoper in Germany takes place at the Hebbel-Theater in Berlin. The program adopts the credits from the 1928 Klavierauszug and Textbuch; it utilizes the original 1928 Bloch Erben/UE script.

1946: Hauptmann moves to southern California and resumes regular work with Brecht. She prepares an English translation of Der kaukasische Kreidekreis, supervises an English-language edition of his poetry, and collaborates with him on a screenplay (unproduced). Brecht deputizes her to work with Eric Bentley on English translations of his poetry and plays. The transcript of her 1972 interview notes, “Brecht schickte ihr ein Gedicht und sagte, selbstverständlich könne sie es ändern.” [Brecht would send her a poem and say, “Of course she can change it.”] In response to the interviewer’s question “Und, haben Sie öfters geändert?” [Did you change them often?], Hauptmann replied, “Ja, zugefügt.” [Yes, I added to them.]

1947 October 15: Brecht issues a declaration (Erklärung) stating that the Bloch Erben contract for Dreigroschenoper is null and void (“null und nichtig”), because the licensing agent had violated its terms. Brecht claims that Bloch Erben had continued to collect royalties on productions of Dreigroschenoper after 1933 without paying him his share. The declaration does not mention Weill or Hauptmann, and there is no evidence that either one was aware of it. Not until 11 July 1949 (see below) does Bloch Erben confirm in a letter to Brecht that the contract is no longer in force.

1947 October 30: Brecht leaves the U.S. and returns to Europe. After brief stopovers in Paris and Zürich, he settles in Feldmeilen, Switzerland. He visits Berlin sporadically from October 1948 until February 1949 in order to meet with old friends and colleagues, make publishing arrangements for a renewal of the Versuche series, supervise a production of Mutter Courage, and lay the groundwork for what will become the Berliner Ensemble. Then he returns to Switzerland.

1948 late July: Brecht signs an agreement with actor Hans Albers in which Albers agrees to play Macheath in a production of Die Dreigroschenoper in Munich. Brecht begins reworking some of the song lyrics. On 6 December, he informs Weill in a letter that he has written a new version (Neufassung) of Die Dreigroschenoper that will circumvent the Bloch Erben contract. Brecht says he is lining up performances of it in Germany, including one already arranged at the Munich Kammerspiele.

1948 November 30: Having left the U.S. in October, Hauptmann arrives in Braunschweig, Germany.

1949 January 17: Weill replies to Brecht that he does not understand the intent of Brecht’s changes to the script and lyrics and thinks that they weaken the work. He also asks for clarity about alternate publishing/licensing arrangements.

1949 February 7: Brecht signs a contract with Suhrkamp Verlag in Frankfurt that makes it the new publisher and licensor of almost all of Brecht’s plays, including Dreigroschenoper; the same contract specifies that Hauptmann shall be authorized to negotiate with theaters on his behalf (she is to receive 25% of Suhrkamp’s commission) and to edit his works for publication (according to scholar John Willett, Brecht did not consult Hauptmann before adding these clauses to the contract). Weill was not notified; in a letter of 28 January Brecht had advised him only that Bloch Erben had released the work, but he did not indicate that new arrangements for representation had already been negotiated with Suhrkamp. Brecht does not mention Suhrkamp to Weill until a letter dated 16 June; even then he says nothing about his own new contract.

Part II, clause 5 of Brecht‘s contract reads in part: “Sonderabmachungen zwischen Bertolt Brecht und seinen Text-Mitarbeiten sowie seinen musikalischen Mitarbeitern werden in jedem einzelnen Fall schriftlich fixiert und als Bestandteil zu diesem Vertragsmemorandum genommen. Sie sind in jedem Fall von Bertolt Brecht und den Mitarbitern durch ihre Unterschrift zu bestätigen.” [Special agreements between Bertolt Brecht and his text-collaborators as well as his musical collaborators will in each case be made in writing and will include the terms of the memorandum to this contract. In each case Brecht and his collaborators must confirm the terms with their signatures.] Neither Brecht nor Suhrkamp makes any such written contract with Weill before his death in April 1950 or with his estate thereafter.

A rider (“Anlage”) to the 1949 contract with Suhrkamp lists Brecht’s dramatic works to be newly represented by Suhrkamp, each with its “Mitarbeiter.” Hauptmann is so credited in the following works: Die Ausnahme und die Regel, Die Dreigroschenoper, Der Jasager [und] Der Neinsager, Das Badener Lehrstück vom Einverständnis, Der Flug des Lindberghs [sic], Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, and Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe. She is not listed for Mann ist Mann or Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe. Weill is credited with four collaborations on the same list. Neither Happy End nor Mahagonny Songspiel appears because they had already been assigned to Felix Bloch Erben and Universal Edition, respectively.

Later in 1949 Suhrkamp issues a retyped script of the Versuche version of Die Dreigroschenoper for stage use, but with the original 1928 title page credits: “Ein Stück mit Musik in einem Vorspiel und acht Bildern nach dem Englischen des John Gay / übersetzt von Elisabeth Hauptmann / deutsche Bearbeitung von Bert Brecht / Musik von Kurt Weill.”

1949 February 15: Hauptmann moves to Berlin; soon she signs her own contract with Suhrkamp, effectively agreeing to do the work specified in Brecht’s agreement of 7 February and to receive the payments outlined therein.

1949 May 30: Brecht settles in East Berlin for the rest of his life.

1949 June 10: In a letter to Weill, Brecht writes, “Den Bühnenvertrieb möchte ich dem Suhrkamp Verlag übergeben, der jetzt einer der grössten Theatervertriebe ist und in [Peter] Suhrkamp einer völler verlässlichen Leiter hat. … Sie als Ausländer können Ihre Musik sofort dem neuen Vertrieb übergeben, d.h. dem Bloch Erben Verlag entziehen.” [I would like to give Suhrkamp Verlag the stage rights. They are now one of the largest theater licensors and have in [Peter] Suhrkamp a completely reliable executive. … You, as a foreigner, can give your music immediately to the new publisher, i.e., take it away from Bloch Erben.] Given the content of his 11 July correspondence with Brecht, Weill may never have received this letter of 10 June.

1949 July 11: In a letter to Brecht, Bloch Erben confirms that the 1928 contract has been terminated. The agency does not acknowledge any wrongdoing, despite Brecht’s declaration of 15 October 1947. In the letter, Bloch reports that Ruth Berlau has conveyed Weill’s agreement to the dissolution of the contract; as Weill’s letter to Brecht of the same date shows, that could not have been true (see next entry). The letter from Bloch Erben also notes that Brecht is obligated to adhere to the previously established royalty percentages for Hauptmann and Karl Ammer, as well as Bloch Erben’s 1928 contracts with Universal Edition.

1949 July 11: Weill advises Brecht that the Bloch Erben contract must be terminated before making a new contract with Suhrkamp; he is under the impression that Brecht intends to offer Suhrkamp only the “Neufassung” of Dreigroschenoper and remains unaware that Brecht has already concluded a comprehensive contract for the bulk of his theatrical works, including stage representation of Die Dreigroschenoper.

1949 July 17: Brecht finally advises Weill that the Bloch Erben contract is now null and void, but by then, in a letter from Bloch Erben, Weill had already learned of Brecht’s unilateral cancelation.

1949 September 5: Suhrkamp notifies Universal Edition that it now administers performance rights for Dreigroschenoper in Bloch Erben’s former territories and requests copies of the musical material for rental use.

1949 September 16: Hauptmann, having assumed her responsibilities for Brecht matters at Suhrkamp, writes the Intendant of the Bremen Theater: “Ich schreibe Ihnen im Auftrag von Herrn Brecht und dem Suhrkamp Verlag  – ich habe seinerzeit die Dreigroschenoper übersetzt und mit Herrn Brecht bearbeitet und gebe jetzt die ‘Versuche’ von Herrn Brecht heraus.“ [I am writing to you on behalf of Mr. Brecht and Suhrkamp Verlag – At the time of Die Dreigroschenoper I translated (the play) and adapted it with Mr. Brecht, and now I am editing his “Versuche.”]

1949: The University of Denver Press publishes From the Modern Repertoire, Series One, which includes Desmond Vesey’s and Eric Bentley’s English translation of Die Dreigroschenoper. Hauptmann and Weill are not mentioned, much less credited. The basis of this translation is the Versuche text.

1950 January 7: In his last letter to Brecht, Weill asks urgently about the contractual situation, as well as royalties deriving from the Munich production. No reply from Brecht survives.

1950 February 3: In a letter to Weill, Hauptmann requests on Brecht’s behalf an explanation of Weill’s demand for a different royalty division for a stage production in Zürich, which Weill has negotiated directly with the theater with respect to his stage rights.

1950 February 15: In a letter to W. Oberer of Schauspielhaus Zürich (WLRC Ser.40), Weill says that he did not learn of Suhrkamp’s representation until Oberer sent him a copy of a letter from Elisabeth Hauptmann (to Oberer) on 7 February: “I was also greatly surprised to discover in the enclosed letter from Elisabeth Hauptmann to you that the Dreigroschenoper is now handled by the Suhrkamp-Verlag — a fact which was completely unknown to me. … I have to insist on personal contracts and on my own terms for the use of the music of Dreigroschenoper as long as no contract, either with Brecht or with anybody else is in existence, and all my requests to send me such a contract remain unanswered. Therefore I cannot recognize any ‘Verteilungsschluessel.’”

1950 April 3: Weill dies in New York; he has designated his wife Lotte Lenya as sole heir and executrix of his estate, which she administers until her death in 1981.

1953 May 12: In a letter to Lenya, Hauptmann writes (in English), “When the Suhrkamp Verlag became Brecht’s publisher and agent, Suhrkamp also took over the DGO-contract with all the stipulations that were contained in the original agreement between Brecht and Bloch Erben. However, Brecht reserved the right to handle the foreign production of his plays, with a few exceptions. Some of the handling I am doing for Brecht.” In 1953-55, Hauptmann was involved in negotiations for the forthcoming off-Broadway staging of The Threepenny Opera as adapted by Marc Blitzstein.

1954: Hauptmann becomes Dramaturgin of the Berliner Ensemble and collaborates on new work with Brecht. She also continues as editor of his works for publication and agent in arranging productions of Dreigroschenoper and other works.

1954 March 10: The Threepenny Opera, translated and adapted by Marc Blitzstein, premieres at the Theater de Lys (off-Broadway) in New York with Lenya playing Jenny. The production becomes a long-running hit and sets a record for most performances of a musical theater work in the U.S. when the run ends in December 1961. Program and advertisement credits include Weill (music), Brecht (original text), and Blitzstein (English adaptation of book and lyrics); Hauptmann’s original role as translator/Mitarbeiter is not mentioned. Reflecting Weill’s posthumous clout as a successful Broadway composer, Brecht’s absence from the scene, and Lenya’s commanding presence, the production was billed as “Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, with his name above the title and Blitzstein’s in the same size, typeface, and boldness just below it. Brecht shared third billing for “original text” with a redundant “Music by Kurt Weill.”

1954 June 15: A draft letter agreement from Brecht to Lenya and Blitzstein proposes the following royalty division for productions of Blitzstein’s adaptation: Brecht 40%, Blitzstein 30%, Lenya 25%, and Hauptmann 5%. The letter is not signed, and it is not clear that the terms were ever accepted. Lenya and Blitzstein executed their own bilateral agreement in March 1955, stipulating that, other contracts notwithstanding, they would divide equally all proceeds remaining “after Bert Brecht’s and Elisabeth Hauptmann’s shares had been deducted.” When the rights holders sign a “stock and amateur” licensing agreement with Tams-Witmark in 1962, the division is 35% for Brecht, 30% for Lenya, 30% for Blitzstein, and 5% for Hauptmann, and those percentages have persisted for Blitzstein’s adaptation.

1954 October 4: Elisabeth Hauptmann informs UE that “Herr Brechts skandinavischer Vertreter ist der Theaterförlag Lars Schmidt.” [Brecht’s Scandinavian agent is the Lars Schmidt Theatrical Agency.] The contract between Weigel and Suhrkamp of 15 July 1957 confirms that arrangement. In a letter written on behalf of Helene Weigel on 8 May 1959 to Teaterförlag Lars Schmidt, instructions concerning royalty shares were amended to “35% Frau Lenya; 15% Elisabeth Hauptmann; 50% Brecht Erben.” [In a letter to Kim Kowalke of 16 July 1987 Hanne Wilhelm Hansen, successor to Schmidt, wrote that “actually we have never had a written agreement with Bertolt Brecht nor his heirs, but we have through 15 years been working on a gentlemen’s agreement basis through Barbara Brecht-Schall in Berlin.” On 9 September 1987 Edition Wilhelm Hansen and the Kurt Weill Foundation signed a representation agreement for Weill’s stage rights in Die Dreigroschenoper with the original authorial credits of 1928 specified.]

1955 January 26: Suhrkamp concludes an agreement with Henschel Verlag for representation of Die Dreigroschenoper in the GDR, the “Eastern Zone” of Berlin, as well as theaters in the Soviet Union, China, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Albania, North Korea, and Vietnam. The agreement provides that Henschel pay royalties directly to rights holders, including Hauptmann.

1955 May 25: Hauptmann gives an interview to Lenya and George Davis in Berlin in which she recalls the genesis and development of Die Dreigroschenoper. Davis did not make a full transcript, but his notes survive in the Weill-Lenya Research Center.

1955 October 25: Brecht and Hauptmann meet famed Italian director Giorgio Strehler in Berlin to discuss his forthcoming production of Die Dreigroschenoper. Hans Bunge prepares a “Protokoll” of their conversation, including the following description of the genesis of the work: “Brecht und Hauptmann berichten, daß für die Eröffnung des Schiffbauerdamm-Theaters (unter Leitung von Fischer und Aufricht) am 31. 8. 1928 ein Stück gebraucht wurde. Brecht hatte die Dreigroschenoper in Arbeit. Sie fußte auf der Übersetzung, die Elisabeth Hauptmann angefertigt hatte. Die weitere Arbeit mit Weill und Elisabeth Hauptmann war eine echte Zusammenarbeit, die Zug an Zug voranging.” [Brecht and Hauptmann reported that a play was needed for the opening of the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm (managed by Fischer and Aufricht) on 31 August 1928. Brecht had Die Dreigroschenoper in the works. It was based on a translation by Hauptmann. Further work with Weill and Elisabeth Hauptmann was a true collaboration that proceeded step by step.”] (Published originally in Bertolt Brechts Dreigroschenbuch: Texte. Materialen, Dokumenten, ed. Siegfried Unseld (Suhrkamp, 1960), p. 130-131. Republished in Brechts Dreigroschenoper, ed. Werner Hecht (Suhrkamp, 1985), p. 134.)

1955: Suhrkamp publishes Stücke für das Theater am Schiffbauerdamm as part of a collected edition of Brecht’s plays; Hauptmann has done most of the editing. Die Dreigroschenoper is represented by the Versuche text, even though that version had never been performed in the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. Only Brecht is named on the title page; E. Hauptmann and K. Weill are listed as “Mitarbeiter” on the first page of the script with no further explanation.

1956 May: An account by Lotte Lenya of the genesis of Die Dreigroschenoper, “That Was a Time!,” is published in Theatre Arts magazine in New York. The article is partly based on the interview with Hauptmann from the previous year. Lenya explains that the entire project had begun with Hauptmann’s initiative in obtaining the Beggar’s Opera script and her preparing scenes for Brecht. She also noted, “At odd intervals — for fun, for relaxation — he [Brecht] began fiddling with this scene or that, keeping intact what suited him, boldly adding or subtracting as he saw fit.” In 1960, Grove Press publishes a revised edition of the Vesey/Bentley translation with Lenya’s piece as the foreword. A German translation of that foreword, “Das waren Zeiten!,” is first published in Brechts Dreigroschenbuch (Suhrkamp, 1960). Her account of the collaboration of Brecht, Weill, and Hauptmann has reverberated in the massive scholarly literature about the work.

1956 August 14: Brecht dies in East Berlin. His wife Helene Weigel administers his estate until her death in 1971; Hauptmann acts as de facto literary executor.

1957 March 14: In a letter to Peter Suhrkamp, Hauptmann explains her essential role in writing Die Dreigroschenoper. (See 1927 December entry above.)

1957 March 15: In a letter to Lenya in English (WLRC Ser.42, box 6, folder 9), Hauptmann asks her to confirm that the royalty division set forth in 1928 in the Bloch Erben contract remains “valid for all countries and for all times,” demonstrating the ongoing uncertainty caused by Brecht’s unilateral contract with Suhrkamp and miscommunication among rights holders and agents throughout the 1950s. Suhrkamp had mistakenly assumed that UE held Weill’s stage rights in Die Dreigroschenoper outside the Austro-Hungarian empire and thus had been paying Weill’s share of royalties to UE instead of directly to Lenya. After years of acrimony, particularly after the enormous success of Blitzstein’s version of The Threepenny Opera off-Broadway in NY, UE finally acknowledges that it has no claim on Weill’s share of stage royalties beyond its original territories of the “former Austro-Hungarian empire,” but does have the same rights for the rental of performance materials as it had in 1928 under an agreement with Bloch-Erben.

1957 March: In a letter to Stefan Brecht (EHA, file no. 135), Hauptmann clarifies her status as Brecht’s collaborator, rather than employee: “So lange ich mit und für Brecht gearbeitet habe, an vielen Arbeiten, habe ich immer nebenher mein eigenes Geld verdient durch Hörspiele, Bearbeitungen usw. (Ich war niemals von ihm bezahlte Angestellte.)” [As long as I have worked with and for Brecht, on many projects, I have always earned my own money from radio plays, adaptations, etc. (I was never paid by him as a salaried employee.)]

1957 June 28: Helene Weigel signs a contract with Bavaria-Filmkunst for a new film based on Die Dreigroschenoper. The contract specifies the original royalty division of 62-1/2% for Weigel, 25% for Lenya, and 12-1/2% for Hauptmann.

1957: Hauptmann begins editing a collected edition of Brecht’s works (“Gesammelte Werke”) for Suhrkamp, a project that would take more than a decade to complete. During that time she also edits and prepares for publication an edition of Brecht’s poems. Following her practice during Brecht’s lifetime, she sometimes makes changes to texts without any notice or reference to editorial principles. Hauptmann later notes the complexity of her task in volume 7 of the Gesammelte Werke, given Brecht’s frequent revisions to dramatic scripts and poems: “Für die Stücke . . . Bearbeitungen, Einakter, Fragmente und Übungsstücke wurden — es sei hier wiederholt — noch einmal alle Texte mit den Druckfassungen, den verschiedenen Typoskripte und Brechts Korrekturen und Notizen verglichen.” [As for the plays — adaptations, one-acts, fragments, and plays intended for acting training — I repeat here that the (edited) texts were compared with printed versions, the various typescripts, and Brecht’s notes and corrections.]

1958 March 28: A contract between Weigel, Lenya, and Gloria Film supersedes the contract with Bavaria Film. The two widows agree to split payments from the film company 50/50. Hauptmann is not mentioned, although Weigel is to receive 27,500 Deutschmark, in addition to her 50% share of advances and royalties, to distribute to unnamed “Mitarbeiter.”

1959 January 1: Lenya and Weigel agree on a new royalty division for Dreigroschenoper: 50% for Brecht, 35% for Weill, 15% for Hauptmann for productions in languages other than German. (Hauptmann continues to receive 12-1/2% for German-language productions.) In effect, Hauptmann is awarded the 2.5% share that had been due to K.L. Ammer for German-language productions, because his German translations of Villon are not used when the work is performed in other languages. Her compensation as “Mitarbeiter on the book of Dreigroschenoper” thus is not language-dependent. A “Besprechungsnotiz” of 12 March 1959 (apparently from Suhrkamp) mentions the revised division of royalties and announces that a contract is forthcoming.

4 May 1959: Helene Weigel informs Robert Voisin of L’Arche in Paris of the new “Tantiemenschluessel für die ‘Dreigroschenoper’: 35% Frau Lenya; 15% Frau E. Hauptmann; 50% Brecht Erben.” The agreement provides that L’Arche will pay royalties directly to rights holders, including Hauptmann.

1961: In an interview with Tobias Langhoff, now preserved on a cassette in the Hauptmann-Archiv, Manfred Wekwerth says of Hauptmann: “Sie wußte alles … hatte umfassenden Einblick in alles … Erfahrungen, Kenntnisse des Gegenstands … sie war … mehr als Mitarbeiterin. … das muß man sagen, das sind, das ist ein … Autorenkollektiv Brecht/Hauptmann … das wird zu selten erwähnt.” [She knew everything, … had complete insight into everything … experiences, knowledge of the subject … . She was more than co-worker….That’s something one has to say: it is a team of authors (an authors’ collective) Brecht/Hauptmann — that is something not mentioned sufficiently.]

1965 December 10: Hauptmann gives a vivid account of her collaboration on Die Dreigroschenoper in a letter to Wilhelm Rothenstein. (See 1927 December entry above.)

1969 October 14: In an agreement between Lenya and Stefan Brecht covering motion picture and first-class theatrical rights of Die Dreigroschenoper in the U.S., royalties are to be split 55% for Brecht and Hauptmann, 45% for Weill.

1971 May 6: Helene Weigel dies in East Berlin. Her son and daughter, Stefan Brecht and Barbara Brecht-Schall, assume responsibility for the Brecht estate.

1972: Elisabeth Hauptmann gives a filmed interview, “Die Mitarbeiterin,” in which she elucidates her work with Brecht. In response to the interviewer’s question, “Also wäre die Dreigroschenoper ohne Elisabeth Hauptmann gar nicht möglich?!,” she declares, “Nein, die Dreigroschenoper wäre sicher nicht gekommen ohne mich.” [“So, the Dreigroschenoper wouldn’t have been possible without Elisabeth Hauptmann? … No, the Dreigroschenoper certainly would not have happened without me.”] More generally, she commented on Brecht’s working methods: “Die Mitarbeit bezog sich nicht nur auf das rein sprachliche, sondern auch das dramaturgische, auf die Einfälle für Szenen, wie etwas weitergeht, für Verzahnungen. Wie weit kann man eine Szene belasten, welche Verkürzungen müssen eintreten …” [The collaboration didn’t relate only to the linguistic part but also concerned the dramaturgy, the ideas for scenes, how something should continue to make everything dovetail, how much could be added before a scene “collapsed,” and where cuts should be made.]

1973 April 20: Elisabeth Hauptmann dies in East Berlin. She bequeaths her share of Dreigroschenoper royalties to a friend, Margaret Mynatt. When Mynatt dies a few years later, she leaves Hauptmann’s royalties to Yvonne Kapp. When Kapp dies in 1999, her will names Betty Lewis as heir to the royalties, which continue to be collected and disbursed, either directly by licensing agents or by Brecht’s heirs.

1976: Methuen in the U.K. and Vintage in the U.S. publish Manheim and Willett’s English translation of the 1932 Versuche text of Die Dreigroschenoper. The title page names “E. Hauptmann” and “K. Weill” as “collaborators” without further explanation. Methuen continues to reprint that translation and credits.

1977: Aufbau-Verlag publishes a posthumous collection of Hauptmann’s writings, Julia ohne Romeo, edited by Rosemarie Eggert and Rosemarie Hill. As part of the collection, the Happy End script is published for sale for the first time. The book also contains an unpublished reminiscence from 1958, “Über Brecht.” Hauptmann writes, “Er arbeitete gern mit anderen zusammen, ja die Zusammenarbeit, die Arbeit im Kollektiv war das Grundprinzip seines Arbeitens.” [He gladly worked together with others, to be sure a real collaboration; working as a collective was the fundamental principle of his working methods.] Another collection, Elisabeth Hauptmann Lesebuch, compiled by Walter Gödden, is published in 2004 by Nyland.

1981 November 27: Lotte Lenya dies in New York. After her death, the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which she had established in 1962, succeeds her as the beneficiary and administrator of the estate of Kurt Weill. It attempts to unravel the extremely complex contractual history of Die Dreigroschenoper, culminating in direct bilateral agreements with licensing agents in various territories which finally resolve issues arising from Brecht’s unilateral agreement with Suhrkamp in 1949.

1988: Suhrkamp publishes the Dreigroschenoper libretto as part of the Grosse kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe of Brecht’s works. The text derives from the Versuche edition, despite the edition’s stated editorial principle of relying on “die autorisierten und wirksam gewordenen Erstdrucke” [the authorized original printings that have become standard] of Brecht’s works. Volume 2 includes Die Dreigroschenoper; at the beginning of the text of Die Dreigroschenoper, “Elisabeth Hauptmann” and “Kurt Weill” are named as “Mitarbeiter.”

1991 January 31: After a lengthy battle, for the first time, the Kurt Weill Foundation and Suhrkamp sign a contract giving Suhrkamp the right to represent Weill’s share in Die Dreigroschenoper in certain territories. The work is to be credited as follows, with Suhrkamp and the Brecht Erben insisting that Brecht now must be credited as its author rather than its adaptor: “Die Dreigroschenoper / ein Stück mit Musik in einem Vorspiel und acht Bildern / von Bertolt Brecht / nach John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera / Übersetzung aus dem Englischen von Elisabeth Hauptmann / Musik von Kurt Weill.” The Foundation signs a similar contract in 1992 with Henschel Verlag.

1992-1997: Three scholarly books about Hauptmann are published, all focusing on her collaboration with Brecht. Hauptmann’s papers have been preserved in the Brecht-Archiv and in the Hauptmann-Archiv in Berlin’s Akademie der Künste.

2000: The Kurt Weill Foundation and European American Music publish a critical edition of the score and libretto of Die Dreigroschenoper, prepared by Stephen Hinton and Ed Harsh, as part of the Kurt Weill Edition. This version restores the Universal/Bloch Erben text from 1928 and reverts to the original crediting. Its source descriptions document Hauptmann’s role in the genesis of the work.

2004: Suhrkamp publishes the “Erstdruck” (first printing) of the Dreigroschenoper libretto, a reprint of the 1928 Universal/Bloch Erben text. Nevertheless, only Bertolt Brecht is credited (as author) on the volume’s title page. The copyright page (verso of title page) reproduces the original 1928 Klavierauszug and Textbuch credits in full.

2010: Sibyllines, a Montreal theater company, claims that The Threepenny Opera is in the public domain in Canada (then a “life + 50” territory) regardless of Hauptmann’s involvement. It announces plans for an unlicensed production and threatens legal action to establish its claim. After being confronted with the facts of the genesis and contractual history of the work, the theater’s management reconsiders and signs a standard performing license, thus accepting and establishing precedent for Hauptmann’s continuing copyright protection on the basis of her role as a co-creator with Brecht and Weill of Die Dreigroschenoper.

2016 May 18: Premiere at London’s National Theatre of a new English adaptation of Die Dreigroschenoper by Simon Stephens. The program credit, approved by both the Weill and Brecht estates, reads, “3 Penny Opera / by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill / in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann / in a new adaptation by Simon Stephens.” (Note that there is no mention in the credit of the work being based on Hauptmann’s translation of John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera.)

2018: Feature films by Heinrich Breloer (a Brecht biopic) and Joachim Lang (an account of the genesis and success of Brecht’s Dreigroschenoper and his film treatment, Die Beule) both depict Hauptmann as an essential co-creator of Die Dreigroschenoper and credit her as such.

2020 December 31: Some of Weill’s instrumental works lose copyright protection in life + 70 countries; collaborative works created with others who died after 1950 remain protected. Publishers and agents continue to license Die Dreigroschenoper in the life + 50 and life + 70 territories that recognize the indivisibility of musico-dramatic works because of Hauptmann’s and Brecht’s contributions.

2021 August 13: Premiere of a major new production of Die Dreigroschenoper at the Berliner Ensemble, directed by Barrie Kosky. The program credits read, “DIE DREIGROSCHENOPER nach John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera von Bertolt Brecht (Text) und Kurt Weill (Musik) unter Mitarbeit von Elisabeth Hauptmann.” In interviews dating from the time of the premiere, Kosky and Intendant Oliver Reese emphatically state that they regard Hauptmann not just as a translator of Gay but as an essential collaborator on the work—in Kosky’s words, “a co-writer.” A contemporary production at the Kammerspiele der Josefstadt in Vienna adopts the same program credits.

2022: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama reissues John Willett and Ralph Manheim’s English translation of the 1931 literary version of Die Dreigroschenoper, with a new cover, new commentary and notes by Anja Hartl, as well as a new authorial credit: “by BERTOLT BRECHT (text/lyrics) and KURT WEILL (music) in collaboration with ELISABETH HAUPTMANN.” There is no mention on the title page of its having been adapted from John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera. The “Chronology” is entirely devoted to Brecht’s life and career. In her introduction Hartl notes that Brecht “revised the 1928 stage version and produced a new script in 1931, which included considerable changes to the characters and the play’s social critique, which was now spelt out more explicitly. Curiously, this later text has become the standard reference for print editions, translations and productions today.”

2026 December 31: Brecht’s copyrights will expire in life + 70 territories, except those created in collaboration with co-creators who outlived him.

2043 December 31: Copyright protection for Hauptmann’s works or works co-created by Hauptmann will expire in life + 70 territories.

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