Kurt Weill - Bastille Music
Kurt Weill is most famous for his bitingly ironical and
radical ballad operas The Threepenny Opera (1928), The Rise and Fall of
the City of Mahagonny (1930) and The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) in which
he collaborated with the evangelical playwright and dramatist Bertold Brecht. In these
works he developed a highly individualistic style that was influenced by the risque
audacity of the new jazz music, the dark romanticism and longing of Mahler, and the
powerful psychological expressionism of Berg. Strongly satirising the decadence of
contemporary Germany in The Threepenny Opera and the ills of a monstrous
capitalism in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Weills music
had a completely original spikiness that was sometimes witty and sometimes highly sardonic
in its description of society. At other times his music poignantly evoked the sadness,
suffering and frustrated romances and loves of poor and oppressed people.
Weills two symphonies were respectively composed
before and just after this central period of ballad operas, whilst the very rarely
performed Bastille music is an arrangement of incidental music for a play that dates from
just before this period.
The Bastille Music is a suite, devised by the Weill scholar
David Drew, taken from Weills incidental music for the Strindberg play Gustav The
Third, premiered in Berlin in October 1927. It is most certainly written in the style of
the composers ballad operas and strongly reflects the expressionistic tone and
subject matter of the great dramatist.