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Kurt Weill Festival


Made possible by generous funding from The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, our exploration of Weill seeks to examine the breadth of his music and richness of his own life. As the University of Maryland celebrates its “Year of Immigration,” this Festival is a cornerstone of this campus wide initiative. Weill’s compositions both absorbed and influenced his changing surroundings which were the result of fleeing persecution himself. His story is inextricably linked to the story of immigration and exile. Through performances and conversation, we seek to provide our community with a historical perspective that will educate, expand, and challenge our understanding of a topic interwoven in our past, present, and future.



KURT WEILL (1900-1950) was born a cantor’s son in Dessau, Germany. After leaving Busoni’s masterclass in composition, he devoted himself almost exclusively to the theater, though his output also included two string quartets, a violin concerto, and two symphonies. By age 25, Weill was being hailed as the leading German opera composer of his generation. His 1928 collaboration with Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann would yield one of the most popular and influential musical theater pieces of the century in The Threepenny Opera, which saw forty productions in the first year alone after the work’s Berlin premiere. Weill’s diverse output for the European stage included plays with music (Happy End and The Silverlake); ballets (Magic Night and The Seven Deadly Sins); three one-act operas; a school opera; and two now famous versions of Mahagonny – all within a decade. Forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1933, Weill went first to Paris. His 1934-36 collaboration with Franz Werfel and Max Reinhardt on the Biblical pageant The Eternal Road brought Weill to New York, where he would settle with his wife, singer and actress Lotte Lenya. There he continued this quest for new hybrid forms of musical theater while collaborating with the foremost poets and dramatists of the day. Virtually all of Weill’s American works challenged Broadway norms: Lady in the Dark (1941, musical play); One Touch of Venus (1943; musical comedy); Street Scene (1947, Broadway opera, winning the very first Tony Award for a Musical Score); Love Life (1948, considered the first “concept musical”); and the daring “musical tragedy,” Lost in the Stars (1949). After his sudden death at age 50 in 1950, Virgil Thompson declared Weill the singular most original workman in all of musical theater, internationally considered, in the last quarter century.” –Kurt Weill Foundation for Music
Photo courtesy of the Weill-Lenya Research Center, Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, New York.


Pre-Performance Conversation

Sunday, October 7, 2018 . 6PM


The Road of Promise

UMD Symphony Orchestra

Sunday, October 7, 2018 . 7:30PM


Kate Lindsey and Baptiste Trotignon (USA/France): Thousands of Miles

Artist Partner Program; Visiting Artist Series

Thursday, November 8, 2018 . 8PM


Kate Lindsey and Baptiste Trotignon

Post-Concert Conversation

Thursday, November 8, 2018 . 9:30PM


The Sound of Berlin

UMD Wind Ensemble, UMD Wind Orchestra, and UMD Men's Chorus

Friday, March 1, 2019 . 8PM


An Affair to Remember: The Love Story of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya

Maryland Opera Studio; Artist Partner Program

March 29, 2019 . 8PM


Stephen Hinton on “The New Objectivity”

Music Scholar Lecture Series

April 5, 2019 . 4PM


Stephen Hinton on “Zaubernacht and Mahagonny Songspiel”

Pre-Performance Lecture

April 5, 2019 . 6PM


Zaubernacht & Mahagonny Songspiel

Maryland Opera Studio

April 5 - 11, 2019 . 3PM & 7:30PM


Opera Resonates: Zaubernacht & Mahagonny Songspiel

Maryland Opera Studio Discussion

April 7, 2019 . 1:30PM


Naomi Graber on "Ghetto Pastoral: Street Scene, Jews, and the Transformation of American Folklore"

Music Scholar Lecture Series

April 12, 2019 . 4PM


Naomi Graber on “Street Scene”

Pre-Performance Lecture

April 12, 2019 . 6PM


Street Scene

Maryland Opera Studio

April 12 - April 20, 2019 . 3PM & 7:30PM


Opera Resonates: Street Scene

Maryland Opera Studio Discussion

April 14, 2019 . 1:30PM


Weill's American Songbook

DMA Voice Students

April 13, 2019 . 5PM