Kurt Weill, 1900 – 1950

March 2, 1900: In Dessau, Germany, Emma Weill (née Ackermann) and Albert Weil gave birth to German-American composer Kurt Weill whose best-known work is “The Threepenny Opera.”

Weill was the third of four children born to Albert and Emma Weill. He grew up in a religious Jewish family in the “Sandvorstadt”, the Jewish quarter in Dessau, Germany, where his father was a cantor.  At the age of twelve, Weill started taking piano lessons and made his first attempts at writing music; his earliest preserved composition was written in 1913 and is titled Mi Addir. Jewish Wedding Song.

In 1915, Weill started taking private lessons with Albert Bing, Kapellmeister at the “Herzogliches Hoftheater zu Dessau”, who taught him piano, composition, music theory, and conducting. Weill performed publicly on piano for the first time in 1915, both as an accompanist and soloist. The following years he composed numerous Lieder to the lyrics of poets such as Joseph von Eichendorff, Arno Holz, and Anna Ritter, as well as a cycle of five songs titled Ofrahs Lieder to a German translation of a text by Yehuda Halevy.

Weill graduated with an Abitur from the Oberrealschule of Dessau in 1918, and enrolled at the Berliner Hochschule für Musk at the age of 18, where he studied composition with Englebert Humperdinck, conducting with Rudolf Krasselt, and counterpoint with Friedrich E. Koch, and also attended philosophy lectures by Max Dessoir and Ernst Cassirer. The same year, he wrote his first string quartet (in B minor).

Deutsche Post issued a stamp commemorating Weill on his 100th birthday in the year 2000, Scott No. 2071.

kurt weill - germany

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