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Little Threepenny Music

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Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill


Subtitle: Suite from Threepenny Opera

This work is also known by its German title, Kleine Dreigroschenmusik.


General Info

Year: 1929 / 1975
Duration: 21:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Universal Edition
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - €59.95


Movements

1. Ouverture - 2:00
2. Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife) - 2:05
3. Anstatt daß-Song (The Instead-Of Song) - 1:55
4. Die Ballade vom angenehmen Leben (Ballad of the Easy Life) - 2:20
5. Pollys Lied (Polly's Song and Tango Ballad) - 2:22
6. Tango-Ballade - 2:35
7. Kanonen-Song (Cannon Song) - 2:30
8. Dreigroschen-Finale (Threepenny Finale) - 4:10


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute I-II (doubling Piccolo)
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone (doubling Soprano Saxophone)
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Trombone
Tuba
Piano
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbal
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Tenor Drum
  • Tom-Tom
  • Wood Block

Accordion
Banjo
Guitar


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

First performed on August 31, 1928, Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) was a "play with music" adapted by Bertolt Brecht from John Gay's eighteenth-century The Beggar's Opera. Eventually banned by the Nazi government, The Threepenny Opera paints a not-too-flattering portrait of 1920s German society, Brecht revealing the dregs of humanity (and casting a very wide net in the process) through an inspired political satire. Although the work was not expected to succeed, it proved to be the biggest theatrical success of the Weimar Republic, running for more than 350 performances over the next two years. In fact, the Dreigroschen fever that gripped Germany from 1928 to 1930 soon spread to other countries, including the United States, where in the mid-1950s 2611 consecutive performances were given in New York, making The Threepenny Opera the longest-running musical show at the time.

Commissioned by the famous German conductor Otto Klemperer, the suite Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (Little Threepenny Music) was first performed four months after the opera's premiere at the Berlin Opera Ball. The convention of basing serenade-like suites for wind orchestra on the scores of successful operas and songspiels was common in Mozart's day; in fact, the "popular music" in the courts during the Classical period tended to be wind octet versions of operas. As the original cast of this "play with music" consisted principally of actors, not trained singers, it would seem likely that Weill added the music into this suite for musical, not commercial, reasons -- the art of his music could now be heard under conditions not possible in the theater.

- Program notes from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble concert program, 2 June 2012


Little Threepenny Music (1929) tells the story of Macheath (Mack the Knife), a murderer in Victorian London. Playwright John Gay’s original work acts as a precursor to Brechtian theatre because it breaks the fourth wall, the imaginary wall between the actors and audience, which keeps them as observers. Audiences of Gay’s opera would hum along with the music and identify with caricatures of thieves, prostitutes, and fashionable society. Referencing Gay’s opera, Weill’s opera lampooned German society and capitalism in the spirit of the Weimar Republic, and soon became one of the most popular works of the period, being translated into 18 languages within five years and performed more than 10,000 times in Europe. The light melodies of the suite Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (Little Threepenny Music) contrast sharply with the horrific lyrics. The original German lyrics were far more graphic, but American audiences were introduced to a lighter script to appease the censors of the conservative 1950s.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 23 February 2021


Awards


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 5 May 2021
  • Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Shaun R. Popp, conductor) - 11 April 2021
  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Minna Stelzner, conductor) - 26 February 2021
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 23 February 2021
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Wind Ensemble (Matthew Dutczak, conductor) - 11 December 2020
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) Symphony Band (Richard Mark Heidel, conductor) - 10 December 2020
  • Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) - 31 October 2020
  • Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 9 February 2020
  • Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, N.C.) Wind Ensemble (Margaret Underwood, conductor)– 15 November 2019
  • Kent State (Ohio) Bands (John Franklin, conductor) – 5 April 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band Chamber Winds (Courtney Snyder, conductor) – 9 November 2018
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Nils Landsberg, conductor) – 9 November 2018
  • Lynn University (Boca Raton, Fla.) Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Amis, conductor) – 12 January 2018
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge) Wind Ensemble (Frederick Harris Jr., conductor) - 1 December 2017
  • Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Michael Colburn, conductor) – 28 September 2017
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Eric Holzman, conductor) – 31 March 2017
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Robblee, conductor) - 4 March 2017
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble (Andrew McMahan, conductor) - 2 June 2012
  • Ball State University Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) - 23 March 2011 - (CBDNA National Conference; Seattle, Washington)


Works for Winds by This Composer


Resources