Kurt Weill: the 'composer as dramatist' in American musical theatre production
The aim of this thesis is to critically examine Weill‘s negotiation of American cultural industries and his collaborative practice in making musicals there. It addresses the influence of the earlier, now discredited, concept of ‗Two Weills‘, which has engendered an emphasis on identity within the current literature. It proposes that Weill scholarship has been further constrained by problematic perceptions of Weill‘s position as both a European modernist composer and an exile in America. Each of these contexts suggests romanticised notions of appropriate behaviour, for a composer, and of autonomy and separation from popular culture. This thesis examines how Weill troubles those notions by engaging with the musical, a so-called ‗middlebrow‘ form, with a disputed cultural value. It traces the reconsideration of the musical as a location for sociocultural analysis, highlighting David Savran‘s requirement that approaches to the musical recognise the form‘s material conditions of production. The thesis establishes its methodology built on Ric Knowles‘s cultural materialist approach to contemporary performance. This enables Weill‘s activities to be seen in their proper context: Weill‘s negotiation of entry into American art worlds, and the subsequent exchange of economic assets and Weill‘s active management of his cultural capital through the media are followed for the first time, clearly revealing the composer‘s working practices. The thesis suggests that Weill is a practitioner who consciously engages with American cultural industries. It addresses questions of authorship, demonstrating how Weill‘s contribution can be understood within complex sets of agencies. It establishes how Weill can be seen through his own model of the ‗composer as dramatist‘ and through Adorno‘s depiction of the composer as a Musikregisseur.
- Theses