Speak low (when you speak love) : the letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya

by Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950.

Format: Print Book 1996
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Music - Open Stacks ML 410.W395 A4 1996
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Music - Open Stacks
Call Number  ML 410.W395 A4 1996
They were an unlikely couple. Kurt Weill was a German cantor's son, cerebral, well-educated. Lotte Lenya was two years older, an Austrian Catholic coachman's daughter, waif-like, less than beautiful but always appealing to men. She survived the abuse of an alcoholic father, escaping to Zurich and finally Berlin, working as a would-be dancer turned actress. When they met, she was a domestic worker in the home of the playwright he had come to recruit as a librettist. Much to his family's dismay, they married in 1926.

Fiercely independent and yet codependent, Weill and Lenya spent twenty-five years discovering a way to live together after realizing that they couldn't live apart. Weill gave music to her voice, Lenya gave voice to his music. Their correspondence--first in German and later, after their move to America, in highly flavored English--is uninhibited, intimate, and irreverent. It offers a backstage view of German music and theater, the American musical theater in the late thirties and forties, and Hollywood. The letters are candid, vivid commentaries on world events, the creative process, and the experience of exile.

Never before published, this collection reflects the vibrancy of Weimar culture in the Golden Twenties and the vitality that #65533;migr#65533;s brought to American culture. Lenya's unfinished autobiographical account of her life before Weill is also included, along with a prologue, epilogue, and connective commentary. Immensely touching as well as informative, Weill and Lenya's letters preserve a portrait of a memorable love that somehow survived its turbulent surroundings.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "He was a well-educated cantor's son and important German composer who made a successful transition to pre-WWII Broadway and Hollywood. She was a dancer and actress who had once supported herself as a prostitute like Jenny in his Threepenny Opera. Married in 1926, they weathered separation, divorce and emigration to the U.S., ultimately remarrying in 1937 and living together until Weill's sudden death in 1950. Their relationship was by turns peaceful and tumultuous. But, during their time apart (on theatrical tours, sometimes with other lovers), they wrote each other at least weekly. The editors have gathered 410 missives, the vast majority (296) from Weill to Lenya. The writing is peppered, as one might expect, with references to theater associates such as Helen Hayes, Alan Jay Lerner, Maxwell Anderson, Marlene Dietrich (very stupid and superficial), André Malraux and Bertolt Brecht (whom Lenya disliked and distrusted). But the letters are equally full of domestic arrangements, endearments, naughty sketches, risqué lyrics and pet names. Roughly half were written in German, but all have been smoothly translated to blend with later English letters. Symonette, who served as Weill's musical assistant starting in 1945, and musicologist Kowalke have wisely chosen to retain the original, at times highly idiosyncratic, spelling and grammar. While there is often something vaguely prurient about reading letters never intended for publication, the correspondence between Blumchen and her Weilili is unexpectedly charming and adds an informative and touching dimension to two well-known lives. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Weill, Kurt, -- 1900-1950 -- Correspondence.
Lenya, Lotte -- Correspondence.
Composers -- Correspondence.
Actors -- Correspondence.
Publisher Berkeley :University of California Press,1996
Other Titles Correspondence.
Contributors Lenya, Lotte.
Symonette, Lys.
Kowalke, Kim H., 1948-
Language English
Includes English correspondence and translations of correspondence from German.
Description 554 pages, 63 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 26 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 525-528) and indexes.
ISBN 0520078535 (alk. paper)
Other Classic View