Tuesday July 23, 2019
First Unitarian Church
605 Morewood Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(Entrance on Ellsworth Ave)
A recital of music repressed in World War II-era Germany, both decadent and delicious, including works by Kurt Weill, Paul Dessau, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Franz Schreker and others, sung by members of the Young Professional Artists Program.
KURT WEILL (1900-1950)
Born in Germany, came to the US in 1935. Composer of the Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny, Lady in the Dark, Street Scene and many other innovative works for the theater. His extensive list of works also includes well-known songs and instrumental music, preserved on innumerable recordings. One of the most versatile and influential theater composers of the twentieth century.
© Kurt Weill Foundation
PAUL DESSAU (1894-1979)
Paul Dessau was born in Hamburg on 19 December 1894. His grandfather was a synagogue cantor. He first took up violin lessons at the age of 6, and from 1910 to 1912 he attended the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory. Afterwards he chose conducting as his career and in 1912 he started at the Hamburg City Theatre as a vocal coach. From 1919, among other theatre engagements, he was engaged by Otto Klemperer at the Cologne Opera, and later moved to the City Opera in Berlin under Bruno Walter.
Meanwhile his composing career also produced an abundance of works. Soon he was attracted by the new medium, film, and started a prominent career as music director at various film theatres. During this period, he strove to bring new music and sound techniques into film. His first experiment in sound movies, Episode, entered the 1929 Baden-Baden festival, where he had met Bertolt Brecht for the first time two years before. While his major output was film music, there were also concert pieces as well as works for proletarian children’s choirs.
In 1933 he emigrated to Paris, earning a living by composing music for other émigré film directors from Germany. In 1936, he met René Leibowitz and started to study the 12-tone system. As the Spanish Civil War broke out, he composed such political marching songs as Thälmannkolonne to the text by his wife Gudrun Kabisch (both under pseudonyms). This exile period also saw his attempts in compositions with Jewish themes as he struggled to find the root of his religious background. In 1938 he composed music for the Paris performance of the Brecht play Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (then titled 99%) which was directed by Slatan Dudow.
© Schott Music GmbH & Co.
BERND ALOIS ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann was born on 20 March 1918 in Bliesheim near Cologne. He attended the Salvatorianer College Steinfeld in der Eifel from1929 to 1936. After having passed his Abitur [higher education entrance examination], he initially commenced a primary teacher training course in 1937, but transferred a year later to the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne to study school music, music theory and composition with Heinrich Lemacher and Philipp Jarnach. In 1939, Zimmermann was drafted into military service and returned from the front three years later due to illness. He then completed his musical studies in 1947 with the music teacher examination.
© Schott Music GmbH & Co.
FRANZ SHREKER (1878-1934)
Franz Schreker was an Austrian composer, conductor, teacher and administrator. In his lifetime he went from being hailed as the future of German opera to being considered irrelevant as a composer and marginalized as an educator. During a period when German and Austrian aesthetics were focused on the symphony, Schreker brought innovation to German opera, which at the time labored under the shadow of Richard Wagner. Though the composer was only a few years younger than Schoenberg and Zemlinsky, and a few years older than Berg and Webern, Schreker’s music remained primarily tonal, reflecting late Romantic Expressionism, Impressionism, elements of atonality and polytonality and timbral experimentation. His music in general and his operas in particular featured extensive symbolism and naturalism.
© The OREL Foundation