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Kurt Weill: The New Orpheus

  • Cantata (1925)
  • for soprano, solo violin and orchestra
  • based on the text of the Kurt Weill Edition
  • 2 2 2 2 - 0 2 2 0 - timp, perc(2), hp, vla(12), vc(12), cb(8)
  • Duration: 18’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    viola I(6)
    viola II(6)
    violoncello I(6)
    violoncello II(6)
  • Composer: Kurt Weill
  • Editor: Andreas Eichhorn
  • Text author: Ivan Goll
  • Dedication: für Lotte Leonard
  • Remarks: based on the text of the critically edited full score, Kurt Weill Edition, Ser. II, Vol. 2

Work introduction

Kurt Weill’s cantata Der Neue Orpheus (1927), on a text by Ivan Goll, is an expressionistic, freely tonal work which mixes the very different stylistic worlds of operatic aria and chanson. At the same time it also includes parodistic echoes of popular and traditional elements – for example, impressionistic features at the beginning of the vocal part, or down-to-earth, acerbic moments bordering on cabaret grotesquerie. The music of Gustav Mahler is referred to both in the music as well as in the text itself. The text narrates the tragic story of a singer who sets off for the grey walls of modern cities in order to rescue Euridice and with her, humanity. Seven variations depict the distortion of our musical life and experience of music. Euridice is a prostitute, redemption impossible – and Orpheus shoots himself.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Berlin (DE)
Erich Kleiber
Main soloists:
Rudolf Deman, vln

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