Sunday, October 20, 8897
Adolph Deutsch (1897-1980) - Music Drama
Adolph Deutsch (1897-1980)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Adolph Deutsch (October 20, 1897 - January 1, 1980) was an Academy Award-winning composer, conductor and arranger.
In 1914, Deutsch was "a Buffalo movie house musician," accompanying silent films.
Deutsch began his composing career on Broadway in the 1920's and 1930's before working for Hollywood films beginning in the late 1930's. For Broadway, he orchestrated Irving Berlin's As Thousands Cheer and George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin's Pardon My English.
In addition to his music for westerns and his conducting of the scores for musicals, Deutsch composed for films noir, including The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Nobody Lives Forever (1946),
He won Oscars for conducting the music for Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954),and for his background music for Richard Rodgers's Oklahoma! (1955),
The London, England-born Deutsch was also nominated for the 1951 film version of Show Boat, for which he conducted the orchestra, and The Band Wagon (1953). For Broadway and Hollywood, he conducted, composed and arranged music, but did not write songs. In addition to his music for westerns and his conducting of the scores for musicals,
He also composed for the Billy Wilder comedies Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960).
He retired in 1961.
Bertolt Brecht (b. Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, February 10, 1898 - August 14, 1956) was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director. An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th Century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the impact of the tours undertaken by the Berliner Ensemble -- a post-war theatre company operated by Brecht and his wife and long-time collaborator, the actress Helene Weigel -- with its internationally acclaimed productions.
From his late 20's Brecht remained a life-long committed Marxist who, in developing the combined theory and practice of his "epic theatre," synthesized and extended the experiments of Erwin Piscator and Vsevolod Meyerhold to explore the theatre as a forum for political ideas and the creation of a critical aesthetics of dialectical materialism. Brecht's modernist concern with drama-as-a-medium led to his refinement of the 'epic form' of the drama. This dramatic form is related to similar modernist innovations in other arts, including the strategy of divergent chapters in James Joyce's novel Ulysses, Sergei Eisenstein's evolution of a constructivist 'montage' in the cinema, and Picasso's introduction of cubist "collage" in the visual arts.
In contrast to many other avant-garde approaches, however, Brecht had no desire to destroy art as an institution; rather, he hoped to "re-function" the theatre to a new social use. In this regard he was a vital participant in the aesthetic debates of his era -- particularly over the "high art/popular culture" dichotomy -- vying with the likes of Adorno, Lukács, Bloch, and developing a close friendship with Benjamin. Brechtian theatre articulated popular themes and forms with avant-garde formal experimentation to create a modernist realism that stood in sharp contrast both to its psychological and socialist varieties. "Brecht's work is the most important and original in European drama since Ibsen and Strindberg," Raymond Williams argues, while Peter Bürger dubs him "the most important materialist writer of our time."
Collective and collaborative working methods were inherent to Brecht's approach, as Fredric Jameson (among others) stresses. Jameson describes the creator of the work not as Brecht the individual, but rather as "Brecht": a collective subject that "certainly seemed to have a distinctive style (the one we now call 'Brechtian') but was no longer personal in the bourgeois or individualistic sense." During the course of his career, Brecht sustained many long-lasting creative relationships with other writers, composers, scenographers, theatre directors, dramaturgs and actors; the list includes: Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, Ruth Berlau, Slatan Dudow, Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Paul Dessau, Caspar Neher, Teo Otto, Karl von Appen, Ernst Busch, Lotte Lenya, Peter Lorre, Therese Giehse, Angelika Hurwicz, Carola Neher, and Helene Weigel herself. This is "theatre as collective experiment [...] as something radically different from theatre as expression or as experience."
There are few areas of modern theatrical culture that have not felt the impact or influence of Brecht's ideas and practices; dramatists and directors in whom one may trace a clear Brechtian legacy include Dario Fo, Augusto Boal, Joan Littlewood, Peter Brook, Peter Weiss, Heiner Müller, Pina Bausch, Tony Kushner, Robert Bolt and Caryl Churchill. In addition to the theatre, Brechtian theories and techniques have exerted considerable sway over certain strands of film theory and cinematic practice; Brecht's influence may be detected in the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Lindsay Anderson, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Joseph Losey, Nagisa Oshima, Ritwik Ghatak, Lars von Trier, Jan Bucquoy and Hal Hartley.
Brecht was born in Augsburg, Bavaria (about 50 miles north-west of Munich) to a conventionally-devout Protestant mother and a Catholic father (who had been persuaded to have a Protestant wedding). His father worked for a paper mill, becoming its managing director in 1914.
Thanks to his mother's influence, Brecht knew his Bible, a familiarity that would impact on his writing throughout his life. From her, too, came the "dangerous image of the self-denying woman" that recurs in his drama.
Brecht's home life was comfortably middle class, despite what his occasional attempt to claim peasant origins implied.
At school in Augsburg he met Caspar Neher, with whom he formed a life-long creative partnership, Neher designing many of the sets for Brecht's dramas and helping to forge the distinctive visual iconography of their epic theatre.
When he was sixteen, the first World War broke out; initially enthusiastic, Brecht soon changed his mind on seeing his classmates "swallowed by the army."
On his father's recommendation, Brecht sought a loophole by registering for an additional medical course at Munich University, where he enrolled in 1917.
There he studied drama with Arthur Kutscher, who inspired in the young Brecht an admiration for the iconoclastic dramatist and cabaret-star Wedekind.
From July 1916, Brecht's newspaper articles began appearing under the new name "Bert Brecht" (his first theatre criticism for the Augsburger Volkswille appeared in October 1919).
Brecht was drafted into military service in the autumn of 1918, only to be posted back to Augsburg as a medical orderly in a military Sexual health clinic; the war ended a month later.
In July 1919, Brecht and Paula Banholzer (who had begun a relationship in 1917) had a son, Frank. In 1920 Brecht's mother died.
Karl Valentin as the barber in Mysteries of a Barbershop (1923).
Some time in either 1920 or 1921, Brecht took a small part in the political cabaret of the Munich comedian Karl Valentin.
Brecht's diaries for the next few years record numerous visits to see Valentin perform.
Brecht compared Valentin to Chaplin, for his "virtually complete rejection of mimicry and cheap psychology" Writing in his Messingkauf Dialogues years later, Brecht identified Valentin, along with Wedekind and Büchner, as his "chief influences" at that time:
"But the man he [Brecht writes of himself in the third person] learnt most from was the clown Valentin, who performed in a beer-hall. He did short sketches in which he played refractory employees, orchestral musicians or photographers, who hated their employer and made him look ridiculous. The employer was played by his partner, a popular woman comedian who used to pad herself out and speak in a deep bass voice."
Brecht's first full-length play, Baal (written 1918), arose in response to an argument in one of Kutscher's drama seminars, initiating a trend that persisted throughout his career of creative activity that was generated by a desire to counter another work (both others' and his own, as his many adaptations and re-writes attest). "Anyone can be creative", he quipped, "it's rewriting other people that's a challenge."
Brecht completed his second major play, Drums in the Night, in February 1919.
In 1922 while still living in Munich, Brecht came to the attention of an influential Berlin critic, Herbert Ihering: "At 24 the writer Bert Brecht has changed Germany's literary complexion overnight" -- he enthused in his review of Brecht's first play to be produced, Drums in the Night--"[he] has given our time a new tone, a new melody, a new vision. [...] It is a language you can feel on your tongue, in your gums, your ear, your spinal column."
In November it was announced that Brecht had been awarded the prestigious Kleist Prize (intended for unestablished writers and probably Germany's most significant literary award, until it was abolished in 1932) for his first three plays (Baal, Drums in the Night, and In the Jungle, although at that point only Drums had been produced).
The citation for the award insisted that:
"[Brecht's] language is vivid without being deliberately poetic, symbolical without being over literary. Brecht is a dramatist because his language is felt physically and in the round."
That year he married the Vienna opera-singer Marianne Zoff. Their daughter -- Hanne Hiob (1923–2009) -- was a successful German actress.
In 1923, Brecht wrote a scenario for what was to become a short slapstick film, Mysteries of a Barbershop, directed by Erich Engel and starring Karl Valentin.
Despite a lack of success at the time, its experimental inventiveness and the subsequent success of many of its contributors have meant that it is now considered one of the most important films in German film history.
In May of that year, Brecht's In the Jungle premiered in Munich, also directed by Engel. Opening night proved to be a "scandal" -- a phenomenon that would characterize many of his later productions during the Weimar Republic -- in which Nazis blew whistles and threw stink bombs at the actors on the stage.
In 1924 Brecht worked with the novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger (whom he had met in 1919) on an adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II that proved to be a milestone in Brecht's early theatrical and dramaturgical development.
Brecht's Edward II constituted his first attempt at collaborative writing and was the first of many classic texts he was to adapt. As his first solo directorial début, he later credited it as the germ of his conception of "epic theatre." That September, a job as assistant dramaturg at Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater -- at the time one of the leading three or four theatres in the world -- brought him to Berlin.
1927 saw the first collaboration between Brecht and Kurt Weill.
Together they began to develop Brecht's Mahagonny project, along thematic lines of the biblical Cities of the Plain but rendered in terms of the Neue Sachlichkeit's Amerikanismus, which had informed Brecht's previous work.
They produced The Little Mahagonny for a music festival in July, as what Weill called a "stylistic exercise" in preparation for the large-scale piece. From that point on Caspar Neher became an integral part of the collaborative effort, with words, music and visuals conceived in relation to one another from the start.
The model for their mutual articulation lay in Brecht's newly-formulated principle of the "separation of the elements," which he first outlined in The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre (1930). The principle, a variety of montage, proposed by-passing the "great struggle for supremacy between words, music and production" as Brecht put it, by showing each as self-contained, independent works of art that adopt attitudes towards one another.
In 1930 Brecht married Helene Weigel; their daughter Barbara Brecht was born soon after the wedding. She also became an actress and currently holds the copyrights to all of Brecht's work.
Brecht formed a writing collective which became prolific and very influential. Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, Emil Burri, Ruth Berlau and others worked with Brecht and produced the multiple teaching plays, which attempted to create a new dramaturgy for participants rather than passive audiences. These addressed themselves to the massive worker arts organisation that existed in Germany and Austria in the 1920s. So did Brecht's first great play, Saint Joan of the Stockyards, which attempted to portray the drama in financial transactions.
This collective adapted John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, with Brecht's lyrics set to music by Kurt Weill. Retitled The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) it was the biggest hit in Berlin of the 1920s and a renewing influence on the musical worldwide. One of its most famous lines underscored the hypocrisy of conventional morality imposed by the Church, working in conjunction with the established order, in the face of working-class hunger and deprivation:
Erst kommt das Fressen
Dann kommt die Moral.
First the grub ("eating like animals, gorging")
Then the morality.
The success of The Threepenny Opera was followed by the quickly thrown-together Happy End. It was a personal and a commercial failure. At the time the book was purported to be by the mysterious Dorothy Lane (now known to be Elisabeth Hauptmann, Brecht's secretary and close collaborator). Brecht only claimed authorship of the song texts. Brecht would later use elements of Happy End as the germ for his Saint Joan of the Stockyards, a play that would never see the stage in Brecht's lifetime. Happy End's score by Weill produced many Brecht/Weill hits like "Der Bilbao-Song" and "Surabaya-Jonny."
Another masterpiece of the Brecht/Weill collaborations, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), caused an uproar when it premiered in 1930 in Leipzig, with Nazis in the audience protesting. The Mahagonny opera would premier later in Berlin in 1931 as a triumphant sensation.
Brecht spent his last years in the Weimar-era Berlin (1930-1933) working with his "collective" on the Lehrstücke. These were a group of plays driven by morals, music and Brecht's budding epic theatre. The Lehrstücke often aimed at educating workers on Socialist issues. The Measures Taken (Die Massnahme) was scored by Hanns Eisler. In addition, Brecht worked on a script for a semi-documentary feature film about the human impact of mass unemployment, Kuhle Wampe (1932), which was directed by Slatan Dudow. This striking film is notable for its subversive humour, outstanding cinematography by Günther Krampf, and Hanns Eisler's dynamic musical contribution. It still provides a vivid insight into Berlin during the last years of the Weimar Republic.
By February 1933, Brecht’s work was eclipsed by the rise of Nazi rule in Germany.
Fearing persecution, Brecht left Germany in February 1933, when Hitler took power. He went to Denmark, but when war seemed imminent in 1939, he moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he remained for a year. Then Hitler invaded Norway and Denmark, and Brecht was forced to leave Sweden for Finland where he waited for his visa for the United States until May 3, 1941.
During the war years, Brecht expressed his opposition to the National Socialist and Fascist movements in his most famous plays: Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person of Szechwan, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, and many others.
Brecht also wrote the screenplay for the Fritz Lang-directed film Hangmen Also Die which was loosely based on the 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Reich Protector of German-occupied Prague, number-two man in the SS, and a chief architect of the Holocaust, who was known as "The Hangman of Prague." It was Brecht's only script for a Hollywood film: the money he earned from the project enabled him to write The Visions of Simone Machard, Schweik in the Second World War, and an adaptation of Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. Hanns Eisler was nominated for an Academy Award for his musical score. The collaboration of three prominent refugees from Nazi Germany -- Lang, Brecht and Eisler -- is an example of the influence this generation of German exiles had in American culture.
[8898 Gershwin / 8897 Deutsch / 8897 Cowell]