This is the complete correspondence of Weill and Lenya, though because she preserved far more of his letters than he did of hers, the book tends to heavily favor Weill's voice. Composer/songwriter Kurt Weill (190050) and singer/actress Lotte Lenya (18981981) were an ill-matched pair: he from a Jewish family, a serious composer, devoted to his wife; she a Catholic girl who fell into a career as an actress/singer and had many affairs throughout their marriage. This volume begins with a fragmentary autobiography that Lenya wrote about her years before meeting Weill. Then, the book proceeds chronologically through all the extant letters, beginning in 1924 and ending in 1948, two years before the composer's death. Weill was a wonderful diarist, recording his impressions of the many famous folk who crossed his path, first in Germany, then in Paris and London, and finally in Hollywood and New York, including Bertolt Brecht (who was Weill's collaborator on The Threepenny Opera), Maxwell Anderson, Ira and George Gershwin, Cheryl Crawford, and Fritz Lang. Lenya tended to be more off-the-cuff in her letter writing. Weill's innate egotism can get out of hand at times, as when he noted the ``bumpkin'' George Gershwin's reaction to his presence in Hollywood: ``Gershwin seems to be shitting in his pants because of me.'' He loathed the Hollywood scene: ``This is the most bourgeois hick town I've ever seen; everyone's gossipy, narrow- minded, jealous.'' Despite the ups and downs in their marriage, the couple's affection for each other comes through loud and clear in this chronicle. Lacunae in the letters are well filled in thorough notes by the editors, Symonette, musical executive of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, and Kowalke, president of the foundation. Recommended for the student of musical-theater history; less vital for the general reader.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)