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Weill

Weill

[wahyl; Ger. vahyl]
Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950, German-American composer, b. Dessau, studied with Humperdinck and Busoni in Berlin. He first became known with the production of two short, satirical, surrealist operas, Der Protagonist (1926) and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren [the czar has himself photographed] (1928). More popular than these, however, was his melodious Dreigroschenoper (1928), a modern version of John Gay's Beggar's Opera, with book by Bertolt Brecht. Translated and adapted by Marc Blitzstein as The Threepenny Opera, it was first produced in New York City in 1933; revived in 1954, it ran for more than six years and has become one of the classics of the musical stage. Brecht was also the librettist of Weill's satiric opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny [rise and fall of the city Mahagonny] (1927; revised and expanded 1930). All these works were condemned as decadent by the rising followers of Hitler, and, in 1933, Weill left Germany for France.

In 1935 he emigrated to the United States, where he began writing sophisticated musicals, the most notable being Johnny Johnson (1936), Knickerbocker Holiday (1938; written with Maxwell Anderson), Lady in the Dark (1941), and One Touch of Venus (1943; written with Ogden Nash). In these works Weill employed with great facility advanced techniques, including multiple rhythms and polytonality, combined with the idiom of American popular music and jazz. His last works, in a more serious vein, included Street Scene (1947), Down in the Valley (1948), and Lost in the Stars (1949; written with Maxwell Anderson). His wife, the singer Lotte Lenya, played many of the leading roles in his works and was his defining interpreter. Weill also wrote some instrumental works; a cantata, Lindbergh's Flight (1929); and The Eternal Road (1934), a pageant of Jewish history originally composed in German with text by Franz Werfel. Weill became a U.S. citizen in 1943.

Weill, Sanford I., 1933-, American business executive, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. A graduate of Cornell (1955), Sandy Weill went to work for a New York brokerage house, and in 1960 helped found a small brokerage firm that grew into the second largest securities brokerage firm, Shearson Loeb Rhoades, before being acquired by American Express in 1981. Weill became president of American Express but lost a power struggle with the company's chairman and resigned in 1985. In 1986 he became CEO of Commercial Credit, a financial and insurance firm that he grew through acquisitions and mergers into the world's largest financial services, insurance, and brokerage conglomerate, Citigroup, Inc., by 1998. He retired as Citigroup's CEO in 2003, but remained chairman until 2006. The complexities of managing the huge international financial "supermarket" that Citigroup became under Weill's leadership contributed to the company's financial difficulties in 2007.

(born March 2, 1900, Dessau, Ger.—died April 3, 1950, New York, N.Y., U.S.) German-born U.S. composer. Son of a cantor, by age 15 he was working as a theatre accompanist. He studied composition briefly with Engelbert Humperdinck, and a conductor's post gave him wide experience. For a master class with Ferruccio Busoni (1920), he wrote his first symphony. He gained attention with his one-act opera Der Protagonist (1925); its sparse and spiky style prefigured that of his greatest works. In 1927 he teamed with Bertolt Brecht to write The Threepenny Opera (1928) in a new “cabaret” style; the musical had enormous success in Berlin and elsewhere. In 1930 the two produced The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. When the Nazis took power in 1933, he fled to Paris with his wife, Lotte Lenya, where he wrote The Seven Deadly Sins (1933). In 1935 the couple immigrated to the U.S.; there he collaborated on musicals such as Knickerbocker Holiday (1938) and Lost in the Stars (1949). Two of his songs, the “Morität” (“Mack the Knife”) from Threepenny Opera and “September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday, have remained especially popular.

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(born March 2, 1900, Dessau, Ger.—died April 3, 1950, New York, N.Y., U.S.) German-born U.S. composer. Son of a cantor, by age 15 he was working as a theatre accompanist. He studied composition briefly with Engelbert Humperdinck, and a conductor's post gave him wide experience. For a master class with Ferruccio Busoni (1920), he wrote his first symphony. He gained attention with his one-act opera Der Protagonist (1925); its sparse and spiky style prefigured that of his greatest works. In 1927 he teamed with Bertolt Brecht to write The Threepenny Opera (1928) in a new “cabaret” style; the musical had enormous success in Berlin and elsewhere. In 1930 the two produced The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. When the Nazis took power in 1933, he fled to Paris with his wife, Lotte Lenya, where he wrote The Seven Deadly Sins (1933). In 1935 the couple immigrated to the U.S.; there he collaborated on musicals such as Knickerbocker Holiday (1938) and Lost in the Stars (1949). Two of his songs, the “Morität” (“Mack the Knife”) from Threepenny Opera and “September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday, have remained especially popular.

Learn more about Weill, Kurt (Julian) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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