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Paul Dessau: His Life & Music

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 116 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: WBAI

Ted Cohen of WBAI-FM, presents a documentary on the life and music of the German Jewish composer Paul Dessau. Born in Hamburg in 1894 (and eventually dying in East Berlin in 1979), Dessau’s tumultuous life included periods of obscurity, exile and poverty, before his eventual recognition as one of the great politically radical composers of the 20th century. The grandson of a synagogue cantor, he fled Germany in 1933 to live in Paris, where he was introduced to 12-note composition by Rene Leibowitz and Arnold Schoenberg. In 1939 he moved to the United States where he met fellow exile, playwright Bertolt Brecht, and soon became one of Brecht’s prime collaborators. Notable works by the two artists include “Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder” (”Mother Courage and Her Children”), and “Die Verurteilung des Lukullus” (”The Condemnation of Lucullus”), excerpts of which are included in this program. In his later music, Dessau often used Marxist dialectics as a working method. His opera, “Einstein” is written in numerous styles, including 12-tone passages, aleatoric performance procedures, pop, and jazz elements, and tape sections of awesome force. This program surveys the life of Paul Dessau and includes numerous lengthy examples of his music, much of which was recorded in East Germany.

Part 1 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  Kampflied der Schwarzen Strohhüte (”Fighting Song of the Black Straw Hats”), for voice and piano [text by Bertolt Brecht] (1936) (3:24) / Paul Dessau -- Guernica, for piano (1938) (5:30) / Paul Dessau -- Jüdische Chronik: Epilogue “Dies Geschieht Heute”, for speaker, chorus, and chamber orchestra [text by Jens Gerlach] (1960-61) (5:46) / Paul Dessau -- Das Verhör des Lukullus (”The Trial of Lucullus”), [excerpt, libretto by Bertolt Brecht] (1949) (8:37) / Paul Dessau -- Die Verurteilung des Lukullus (”The Condemnation of Lucullus”), [excerpt, libretto by Bertolt Brecht] (1949, rev. 1950-51) (9:18) / Paul Dessau -- The Song of Mother Courage [from Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder (”Mother Courage and Her Children”), text by Bertolt Brecht] (1946, rev. 1948-49) (3:04) / Paul Dessau
Genres:  Music Theater; Opera
Subject:  Dessau, Paul, 1894-1979; Music theater; 20th century classical; Songs with piano; Piano music; Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with chamber orchestra; Operas -- Excerpts; Musicals -- Excerpts
People:  Cohen, Ted; Dessau, Paul, 1894-1979; Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956; Schebera, Jürgen, 1940- ; Landau, Siegfried ; Gerlach, Jens, 1926-
First Broadcast Date:  5/10/1982
 
Part 2 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  In Memoriam Bertolt Brecht, for orchestra (1957) (13:38) / Paul Dessau -- Puntilla Song [text by Bertolt Brecht] (1949) (1:25) / Paul Dessau -- Puntilla [excerpt, libretto by Peter Palitzsch & Manfred Wekwerth, after Brecht] (1957-59) (12:40) / Paul Dessau -- Orchestermusik No.4, for orchestra (1973) (16:31) / Paul Dessau -- Einstein [excerpt, libretto by Karl Mickel] (1969-73) (1:31) / Paul Dessau -- Einstein [excerpt] (1969-73) (7:47) / Paul Dessau
Genres:  Music Theater; Opera
Subject:  Dessau, Paul, 1894-1979; Music theater; 20th century classical; Orchestral music; Operas -- Excerpts; Musicals -- Excerpts ; Songs with instrumental ensemble
People:  Cohen, Ted; Dessau, Paul, 1894-1979; Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956; Palitzsch, Peter, 1918-2004 ; Wekwerth, Manfred ; Pommer, Max ; Mickel, Karl, 1935-2000 ; Landau, Siegfried
First Broadcast Date:  5/10/1982
 
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