Kurt Weill estate entrusts priceless catalogue to BMG05 December 2018 - Press release
BMG is honored to announce that the estate of legendary German-born composer Kurt Weill has agreed to entrust to BMG the administration of the popular songs he wrote in collaboration with groundbreaking German dramatist Bertolt Brecht.
Included are all of the songs from the acclaimed works The Threepenny Opera (1928), Happy End (1929) and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930).
It is the first time the catalogue has moved since 1956, at the time of the extraordinary success of the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera that ran a then-record 2,707 performances in New York.
Lotte Lenya, Weill's widow and renowned interpreter of his music, bequeathed her rights in his work to the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in 1981. Foundation President Kim Kowalke remarked: "We at the Foundation are thrilled by this new partnership with BMG, which promises to deliver exciting new opportunities for expanding the impact of Weill's artistry to an ever broader audience."
The catalogue includes the timeless standard "Mack The Knife." Named one of the hundred most popular songs of the twentieth century, it has been covered by a who's who of artists, from Louis Armstrong to Marianne Faithfull to Nick Cave to Robbie Williams to Sonny Rollins to Ella Fitzgerald to Tito Puente. Bobby Darin's iconic recording of the song hit Number One on the pop charts in 1959 and was eventually to be listed as No. 3 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. Also included in the catalogue are the "Alabama Song" (notably covered by The Doors, David Bowie, and Ute Lemper) and "Pirate Jenny" (covered by Nina Simone, Hildegard Knef, Judy Collins, Marc Almond, and Sasha Velour).
BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, "It is quite simply an honor for BMG to represent the Kurt Weill catalogue. It is also appropriate that BMG as a Berlin-based international music company should represent these historic works. It was in Berlin that Kurt Weill first met Lotte Lenya and it was in Berlin that Weill and Brecht most notably worked together. We look forward to working with the Kurt Weill Foundation to further spread the word about this extraordinary music."
BMG EVP, Music Publishing Catalogs David Hirshland said, "Kurt Weill's music is a cornerstone of twentieth-century artistic and cultural history and we are excited to help introduce these songs, along with his legacy, to new generations."
Kurt Weill was born in Dessau, Germany, in 1900 to a devout Jewish family. He showed musical talent from an early age. By his late twenties he had become one of the most famous and influential composers in Germany. His work with Brecht and other great dramatists of the time, including Georg Kaiser, blazed a new trail for opera and music theater to engage with a broad public. Denounced by the Nazi regime, he fled Germany in 1933. Upon arrival in New York in 1935, he quickly embraced his new country and by the 1940s had again become one of the most important artistic voices, this time on Broadway. He died in 1950, just after his fiftieth birthday.
Weill's work continues to have a powerful impact on popular culture. A performance of The Threepenny Opera forms the backdrop to a key scene in the highly acclaimed TV drama set in Weimar Germany, Babylon Berlin, whose soundtrack has been released by BMG. The recently released Mackie Messer — Brechts Dreigroschenfilm tells the story of the smash hit success of the The Threepenny Opera in Berlin in 1928 and the high-stakes struggle to adapt it as a film.