251 Weill251 Weill

Kurt Weill: An European in Broadway (feat. Philippe Jarnach’s Piano Music)


  • Artist(s): Hamsa Irene Rinaldi, Michelangelo Carbonara
  • Composer(s): Kurt Weill, Philipp Jarnach
  • EAN Code: 7.46160910802
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental, Vocal
  • Instrumentation: Piano, Soprano
  • Period: Modern
SKU: C00251 Category:

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“He is a Spaniard by birth, educated in Paris and with a German mindset; he has an intelligence which is both very quick and very clear in grasping and ordinating the ideas. He has been a help for me; he made the reduction for voice and piano of my two operas and he will teach them to the singers; in fact, following my suggestion, he has been appointed at the Zurich City Theatre. Moreover, he likes ‘theory’ very much, and frequently he explains my own works to myself. He speaks a perfect French, and German as a cultivated person. Voilà Philippe! (He is also an excellent pianist”.

This appraisal of Philipp Jarnach (1892-1982) was penned by no Ferruccio Busoni, who was describing the barely 25-years-old musician to his friend and colleague José Vianna da Motta, in 1917. The list of Jarnach’s qualities is revealing, as it explains very synthetically the reasons why Busoni appreciated Jarnach so much. The cosmopolitanism of the young man and his ability to speak competently many languages obviously appealed to Busoni, who was in turn a “European” musician, and somebody who not only could speak many languages, but also was able to absorb, from the various cultures with which he came into contact, a wealth of information, stimuli, provocations.

Moreover, Jarnach had that penchant for theory which was certainly a plus, in Busoni’s eyes; indeed, Busoni was keen on being recognized for his qualities as a composer rather than for his astonishing pianistic skills, and the idea of meeting with somebody who could assist him in his compositional activity and who studied his works so deeply was certainly very exciting.

Last but not least, Busoni appreciated those with a quick wit, and those with a methodic mind; the fact of finding somebody who actually possessed both of these qualities was a kind of cultural treasure for Busoni.

The two musicians met in Switzerland, in 1915. Busoni had taken refuge in Zurich: a personality as complex as his, and as difficult to neatly classify by nationalities or parties, could certainly not thrive in a period of war, of a harsh war among the European countries. Busoni immediately recognized the talent of his younger colleague, and Jarnach became both a student of and an assistant to the Italian musician.

Philipp Jarnach had been born near Paris, to a German mother and to a Catalan father. His father was a famous sculptor; however, music was a strong interest for all members of the Jarnach family, and their son soon became a child prodigy. During his years in France, Jarnach could meet with Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel; their compositional style – what is commonly, though imprecisely, known as “musical Impressionism” – influenced deeply his own first compositional attempts.

This happened, however, before Jarnach’s meeting with Busoni. The Italian musician was nearing the end of his life (though he was still young and extremely active); however, he had already developed his aesthetic ideas and ideals, he had given them a theoretical form in his writings, and (to a lesser extent) an aural shape in his musical works. (The difference between theory and practice consists in the fact that Busoni was much more radical in theory than in practice).

However, in particular, Busoni’s theorization of the “new Classicism” appealed to Jarnach; he did not abjure his earlier infatuation with the French school, yet he quickly absorbed the ideals of clarity, purity and – at the same time – expressiveness which characterized Busoni’s view.

Jarnach spent some years in Switzerland, performing, composing, writing as a music critic, and also teaching at the Conservatory of Zurich. In his works of these years, Busoni’s influence is clearly discernible, though not to such an extent as to quench Jarnach’s own vein. Moreover, both in Jarnach’s instrumental and in his vocal works, there is an attention to the structure of the musical phrase which is a heritage of his earlier encounters with singer Reinhold von Warlich, who introduced him to the expressive and rhetorical world of the German Lied.

In 1921, Busoni faced the last major relocation of his life, leaving Zurich for Berlin, where he would spend his last years. Jarnach followed him in the German capital; at Busoni’s death, Jarnach undertook the task of completing his teacher’s unfinished masterpiece, Doktor Faust; later, he undertook a teaching career in other German cities (such as Cologne and Hamburg).

During Busoni’s and Jarnach’s first years in Berlin, however, a third musician joined them, becoming – curiously – a student of both. It was a very young Kurt Weill (1900-1950). Weill, whose Jewish lineage had favoured his knowledge of the fascinating traditional repertoire of Jewish music, had studied for a short time at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, under the guidance of Engelbert Humperdinck (who can be considered as Wagner’s most important and most direct heir in the field of the German opera). However, he had been forced by financial straits to abandon Berlin and to come back to the city of his childhood, Dessau. There, he had studied music with Albert Bing, who had mentored him not only by advising him to study with Humperdinck, but also by finding him jobs as a musician. After an experience in the Ludenscheid opera house, Weill decided to move once more to Berlin, and there he met Busoni (1920), to whom he showed some of his youthful works. Busoni immediately acknowledged the young man’s talent, and took him under his own protective wings, but also encouraged him to study counterpoint with Jarnach.

The encounter with these two musicians proved to be fundamental for Weill. Even though his own later compositional output is by no means homogeneous, and the three “classical” stages of his life and compositional career bear very little resemblance with each other, the Expressionist movement which was animating the Berlin musical scene proved to be crucial for the development of his own style, and remains clearly recognizable even under the varnish of his later musical evolution.

Equally important, perhaps, were Weill’s experiences in the field of the unofficial and non-classical scene of Berlin’s musical panorama; the young musician, thus, could combine the rational, classical, complex and structured teaching of Busoni and Jarnach with the freshness, the sarcasm, the modernity and the irreverence of the cafés, variety theatres and musical clubs.

Weill soon began to compose operas and stage works; following Der Protagonist (1926) and Royal Palace (1927), he began his short-lived, but enormously important, cooperation with dramatist Bertolt Brecht. Mahagonny (a singspiel which predated the later opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) was their first cooperation, in 1927, and it is full of a biting satire against contemporaneous society. Weill, in fact, was deeply convinced of the importance of being “relevant” to the issues of the time; art for art’s sake was not among his interests, and he wished for his music and his theatrical works to impact on the lives of those surrounding him.

If Weill’s encounter with Brecht was crucial for the future development of the career of both (particularly with Die Dreigroschenoper), a particular singer played also a fundamental role in favouring the success of these works. It was Lotte Lenya, a singer and actress with an extremely strong personality, who would marry Weill in 1926. (They divorced, and then remarried, in a curious development which reveals a lot about their relationship).

Of course, Weill’s personality, his Jewish origins, and especially the outspoken character of the librettos he chose and of the music he wrote, were not something which the Nazi regime could easily tolerate; thus, he had to leave Berlin, and he moved to Paris, London, and finally to New York. Here, his career took off, and his works for the musical stage soon conquered the Americans; indeed, America represented for him an opportunity to become known internationally. Undoubtedly, he carefully studied and partially assumed the language of the Broadway musicals and of the off-Broadway theatres; however, he never renounced his earlier education, and the “classical” approach he had inherited from Busoni and from Jarnach in his youthful years.

It is certainly surprising, if one thinks about this, that one of the least “academic” of the twentieth-century composers, and one of the enfant terribles of music was also a student of Busoni, the great Bach lover and the master of counterpoint; however, this is not as odd as it might appear at first, since it was precisely on the solid ground of the German compositional tradition that Weill could find his own wings, and create a language of his own in which a variety of influences merge, but his own personality emerges.

Album Notes by Chiara Bertoglio


Hamsa Irene Rinaldi: She graduated in singing from the Santa Cecilia’s Conservatory in Rome. She studied under Ilaria Piccin and received further voice training from the acclaimed Franca Forgiero and recently with Elizabeth Norberg Schulz She attended acting classes, in Italian diction and dubbing at the “Piccola Accademia della Comunicazione e dello Spettacolo” of Stefano Jurgens. She attended the following courses: “Scenic art” workshop, “Directing”, “Background music and Soundtracks”, “Film review” , “Screenplay”, “Vocal technique for Musicals” , “Jazz improvisation”. In the years she discovered different composers and music genres expanded her repertoire from Opera Aries to Sacred Music, from romance to songs, from lieder to chansons, from musicals to Background Music. She adores above all the composer George Gershwin. She has performed as a solo singer a variety multidisciplinary shows since 2009, mainly in Rome, at the Vascello Theater, at the Ghione Theater, at the Ambra Jovinelli Theater, at the Scuderie Villino Corsini inside the Villa Pamphilj Park, at the Caravita’s Oratorium, at the Santa Rita’s concert-hall, at the Policlinico’s Hall “A. Gemelli”, at Sala Campidoglio, Academic Hall of Conservatory of Music of Santa Cecilia. She participated as a chorister, always in Rome, in different concerts in beautiful sacred places, such as Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Ara Coeli’s Church, Vatican Basilica. She was lucky enough because she was accompanied to the piano several times by Michelangelo, with whom she recorded a CD “Melodie e Arie d’opera”. Recently she performed, always together with Michelangelo, at the Italian Institute of Culture-Oslo for a concert in three parts: the first dedicated to Italian composers with famous opera arias and romances, the second, a tribute to Norway with the opera aria Solveigs Sang and the song Santa Lucia / Sankta Lucia, the latter is in Neapolitan and in Norwegian, and the last part dedicated to Christmas songs. She collaborated with GianLuigi Zampieri, Stefano Micheletti, Massimo Scapin, Emanuele Stracchi. She has been a teacher since June 2011 certified by the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (KHYF). For two consecutive years, as a teacher, she directed her own program "An orchestra: the voice and the breath”at the Yoga Festival in Rome and then at the Festival Tolfarte Kids in Tolfa, with her own program “Help me that I help you”. She shares the thought of Audrey Hepburn: “It’s not just words, but also the tune and the intonation to make a song beautiful.[...] it doesn’t matter only what you say, but how to say it.”

Michelangelo Carbonara: He graduated at seventeen at the Conservatory Santa Cecilia in Rome, with full marks, under Fausto Di Cesare’s guidance. In 1999 he was awarded his Piano Specialisation Degree by the Academy of Santa Cecilia, under Sergio Perticaroli's guidance.
He continued his studies at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the Académie Musicale de Villecroze in France. He attended masterclasses headed by Bruno Canino, Dominique Merlet and Gyorgy Sandor.
In 2001 he was admitted to the International Piano Academy Lake-Como headed by Martha Argerich. He had lessons with many important pianists such as Leon Fleisher, Dimitri Bashkirov, Fou Ts'Ong, William Grant Naborè, Claude Frank, Menahem Pressler, Andreas Staier, Peter Frankl and Alicia De Larrocha.
He has won 17 prizes in International piano competitions.
In 2003 he gave his first performance in China, and a masterclass at the Central Conservatory in Beijing.
In 2007 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall, New York and he now performs regularly in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
He has recorded for Papageno, Tactus Suonare Records, Nascor-Ysaye Records-Harmonia Mundi, Egea, Brilliant Classics, Piano Classics labels. He gave chamber music masterclasses at USAC in Viterbo and piano masterclasses in Romania, China and Canada.
In 2005 he was invited at the National Prize for Arts, promoted by the Italian Ministery for Culture, as testimonial for the italian music. He is Piano Professor at "C.G. da Venosa" Conservatory in Potenza, Italy.


Kurt Weill: (b Dessau, 2 March 1900; d New York, 3 April 1950). German composer, American citizen from 1943. He was one of the outstanding composers in the generation that came to maturity after World War I, and a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theatre. His successful and innovatory work for Broadway during the 1940s was a development in more popular terms of the exploratory stage works that had made him the foremost avant-garde theatre composer of the Weimar Republic.

(b Noisy, France, 26 July 1892; d Börnsen, nr Bergedorf, 17 Dec 1982). German composer of Spanish and French origin. He was the son of Esteban Jarnach, a noted Spanish sculptor. At the age of 15 Jarnach moved to Paris, where he studied the piano with Risler and composition with Lavignac. When World War I broke out, he emigrated to Zürich, where he came in close contact with Busoni, who advised him privately on his compositions, and convinced the Zürich Conservatory to hire Jarnach to teach counterpoint in 1918. In 1921 Jarnach left his position in Zürich and moved to Berlin, motivated by the desire to remain close to Busoni. There he became actively involved in the avant garde, joining the Novembergruppe and the German Section of the ISCM, and co-directing the Melos Gesellschaft with Tiessen after 1923. From 1925 to 1927 he worked as a music critic for the Berliner Böser-Courier and taught several students privately, including Weill. In 1927 he was appointed professor of composition at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, where he taught until 1949. Among his students were Wand and B.A. Zimmermann. Jarnach became a German citizen in 1931, and continued to teach in Cologne throughout the period of Nazi dictatorship, but was not a supporter of the regime. At this time he composed little, sporadically recommending compositions to the Reichs-Rundfunk and having his works performed only rarely, isolating himself from the surrounding political events. In 1949 he became director of the newly established Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Hamburg, a position he held until 1959. He continued to teach there until 1970. Jarnach received much official recognition as an artist, becoming a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, and being awarded the Berliner Kunstpreis (1955), the Hamburg Bach Prize (1957, with Blacher), the Hamburg Brahms Medal (1958) and the Grosses Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1959).

Jarnach’s early compositions were influenced by late 19th-century French musical and literary culture. His extensive unpublished early songs show the marked influence of Debussy, and as early as 1910 he began composing lieder, influenced by Strauss, Wolf and Schubert. In the 1920s Jarnach became better known for his transparent, contrapuntal chamber works, especially the Sonatine op.12, the String Quintet op.10 (which caused a sensation at Donaueschingen in 1921) and the String Quartet op.16, which was performed and recorded by Hindemith’s Amar Quartet. These works are characterized by atonal harmony, linear counterpoint, strict forms and a melancholy tone. They reflect not only Jarnach’s allegiance to Busoni’s teachings of Junge Klassizität but also his study of Beethoven’s late quartets and Schoenberg’s atonal chamber works. Jarnach thereafter began to depart from Busoni’s teachings, however, as can be seen in his highly charged, Romantic Fünf Gesänge op.15, his rhapsodic Piano Sonatina op.18 (Romancero I) and the French-influenced Drei Klavierstücke op.17. After 1937 Jarnach’s output diminished considerably, and his most noted achievements after this date are his classicist Musik mit Mozart (variations on themes from Mozart’s Piano Trio k542 and String Quintet k593), Das Amrumer Tagebuch op.30 and Musik zum Gedächtnis der Einsamen, a movement for string quartet composed on the occasion of Schoenberg’s death.

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