Lied des Lotterieagenten

People Brecht and Weillwho are familiar with this blog, know that I like early 20th century classical music, particular the music from the early 20s to the 30s. In this time of turbulence (the socio-economical problems in the Thirties and the rise of fascism), the (former) Weimar Republic suddenly became the cultural center of Europe. Classical composers experimented with dissonants, foreign music styles (North/South American music styles like jazz, blues, tango) and some of their material even ended up being used during protests, demonstrations and that. In a country that moves to a confrontation between political parties and everybody in between and where the rule of law is slowly being dictated by one party, unlikely friendships are struck, most of them to protest the order of the day.

One of the most successful collaborations was the one between the poet Berthold Brecht1 and (Jewish) composer Kurt Weill: their ‘The Three Penny Opera’, an opera with a critical look at society and morals, heavily accented with jazz melodies and rhythms (‘un-german music’), became such a huge success that their works soon attracted the attention of the Nazis who eventually forbade the performance of many of their works.

In this precarious situation, Weill eventually turned to an old friend (Georg Kaiser) with who he writes a ‘less confrontational’ opera, ‘The Silverlake’. Although being presented as a ‘volks oper’ (people’s opera), so to appeal as to many people as possible, Nazi-party members and followers manage to cause riots during its performance. A couple of days after, the Reichstag fire breaks out and, well, the rest is history.

Which brings me to today’s ‘Past-The-Bridge’ posting with a sound fragment of the earlier mentioned opera ‘The Silverlake’: it’s a portion from the ‘Song of the Lottery agent’ (fragment 30+ seconds), in which a (lottery) salesman suddenly announces that the main character has won ‘the big money prize’ and begins his song in (surprise, surprise) tango style.

This entry was posted in Past-the-bridge and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.