Striking original photograph by the highly distinguished Armenian-born Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) depicting Weill seated at his desk, pencil in hand, with a score of Street Scene, considered to be Weill's "official portrait." Ca. 1946. Kurt WEILL.

Striking original photograph by the highly distinguished Armenian-born Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) depicting Weill seated at his desk, pencil in hand, with a score of Street Scene, considered to be Weill's "official portrait." Ca. 1946

252 x 203 mm. With "Kurt Weill The Playwrights' Co. Photo by Karsh late 1940's" in pencil to verso along with other annotations.

Very slightly worn; corners slightly creased; small stain to blank lower margin not affecting image.

Weill, born in Dessau, Germany, became an American citizen in 1943. "He was one of the outstanding composers in the generation that came to maturity after World War I, and a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theatre. His successful and innovatory work for Broadway during the 1940s was a development in more popular terms of the exploratory stage works that had made him the foremost avant-garde theatre composer of the Weimar Republic...". David Drew and J. Bradford Robinson in Grove online

"By far the most widely reproduced of all Weill photographs, it shows him seated at his Brook House desk, immaculately dressed and freshly coiffured, with chin thrust forward as in no other photograph, and pen poised over a page that could almost be a balance-sheet but reveals itself, in the better reproductions, as a page from the rehearsal score of Street Scene. There is no remotely comparable picture, and yet it is impossible to imagine one better suited to the purposes of documenting the 'image and understanding' of 'Weill in America' that has been so vigorously promoted by Brecht scholars in recent years - the image, that is, of one who was at home on Broadway but would have been equally so in the boardrooms of Wall Street or Madison Avenue... The imposture becomes 'genuine' through Weill's endorsement of its impersonal conformity in preference to the introspective and enigmatic figure portrayed not only by Hoyningen-Huene but also, with uncharacteristic insight, by Karsh himself in a second, and quite unknown, portrait taken at the same session in Brook House." David Drew: Kurt Weill, pp. 44-45.

Street Scene, an opera in two acts by Kurt Weill to a libretto by Elmer Rice after his own play, with lyrics by Langston Hughes and Rice, premiered in Philadelphia at the Shubert Theatre on December 16, 1946. The work opened in New York at the Adelphi Theatre on January 9, 1947 and ran for 148 performances through May 17, 1947. The present photograph was presumably used in association with the New York premiere.

"Weill considered Street Scene his chef d’oeuvre... [His] musical concern was less with originality than with authenticity. The cloying sentimentality is a function of the drama. It also demonstrates how Weill adjusted his musical voice as the drama demanded. Street Scene contains European elements, including allusions to Puccini, even to Wagner. The drama demanded them, too. The description ‘American opera’ nonetheless applies: it is an opera for America – that is, for a Broadway public; and it is an opera about America, both musically and in terms of plot." Stephen Hinton in Grove online. Item #21887

Price: $750.00  other currencies

See all items in Music
See all items by