SPEAK LOW (WHEN YOU SPEAK LOVE) by Kurt Weill

SPEAK LOW (WHEN YOU SPEAK LOVE)

The Letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-520-07853-5
Page count: 632pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996




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