November 9th, 2019 was the 30 year anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. With that in mind, I am very excited to take you to Berlin on a musical journey through time and history.
Berlin has had so many faces and chapters through the years. In this special program at the Met Museum, I will lead you through the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic, its music, cabaret and political satire, from the ‘Three Penny Opera’ of Brecht/ Weill to the wild ‘Berlin Cabaret Songs’ by Hollaender, Schwabach and Spoliansky. This ‘Dance on a Volcano’ with the Theater Songs ‘Bilbao Songs/ Pirate Jenny/ Salomon Song, and Moritat of Macky Messer’ and Cabaret Songs like ‘Life’s a Swindle/ the Lavender Song/ I am a Vamp, and Liar, Liar’ represented the climax of the Weimar culture, but was utterly shattered after 1933 as the Nazis censured and eliminated every creative and progressive force. After 1933 Eisler and Brecht had created a ‘Cabaret in the Exile’, that existed only in the not Nazi occupied territories and only for a very brief time. After 1938 everything was shut down and most of the artists were in exile or had been incarcerated in the ghettos and camps. The ‘Cabaret in the Exile’ presented a collection of highly political songs, including the ‘Water Wheel’ and ‘The Ballad of Marie Sanders’.
Following the timeline of history, I include some songs written in the Ghettos, especially Theresienstadt that incarcerated the Jewish composers and poets.
The next chapter is equally haunting, as it brings us to the utterly destroyed Berlin of 1946, with songs written for the movie ‘A Foreign Affair’. It was filmed in the ruins of Berlin. Marlene Dietrich sang these songs written by Friedrich Hollaender in this very movie directed by Billy Wilder.
I often thought that if the Nazis would not have shattered the Culture of Weimar after 1933, the 60’s would have happened already in the 40’s and right there in Berlin!