Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill is a prominent German born composer who is well known for his career both in Europe and the United States. Most notably in his American career, he set the poems of Walt Whitman to music in his Four Walt Whitman Songs.

Photo: Kurt Weill, photograph by Yousuf Karsh, 1946.

Print This Page


German composer Kurt Weill emigrated to the United States in 1936, and his interest in American music and literature became a vital part of his music.

He moved to New York in the mid 1930s to restart his career after fleeing Nazi Germany. Weill had a strong affinity for America and quickly fostered a great sense of national pride. He is quoted saying “Although I was born in Germany, I do not consider myself a `German composer.’ The Nazis obviously did not consider me as such either, and I left their country (an arrangement which suited both me and my rulers admirably) in 1933. I am an American citizen, and during my dozen years in this country I have composed exclusively for the American stage” (Kowalke)

Much of his work in America was for the stage as well as the commercial sector, including large works such as Knickerbocker Holiday and Street Scene, as well as a number of film scores. While these may be the more popular of his catalogue, he also composed in smaller forms in a more commercial effort. He composed a large body of work for the American Military, including songs specifically for the Office of War Information and the War Department. He wrote a number of songs with entirely American themes including a set titled “Songs for the War Effort” (also known as “Propaganda Songs”) and what are likely his most famous American songs which are a grouping of pieces with text written by Walt Whitman. 

Megan Maloney

Related Information




Requiem - The Pity of War

(Kurt Weill)


Ballads Of The Pleasant Life: Kurt Weill, Weimar And Exile

(Kurt Weill and Archibald MacLeish)


Behind the Lines

(Charles Ives and Kurt Weill)


Kurt Weill: This Is the Life

(Kurt Weill)


Stay Well: Urs Affolter Singt Kurt Weill

(Kurt Weill)


To The Soul - Poetry Of Walt Whitman

(Ernst Bacon, Leonard Bernstein, Henry T. Burleigh, Gerald Busby, Philip Dalmas, Charles Ives, Charles Naginski, Ned Rorem, Robert Strassburg, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kurt Weill, Elinor Remick Warren and Walt Whitman)


The Art of Theodor Uppman

(Katherine Kennicott Davis, Celius Dougherty, Stephen Foster, Richard Hageman and Kurt Weill)


American Songbook - The American Music Collection, Vol. 3

(Amy Marcy Beach, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Betty Jackson King, Libby Larsen and Kurt Weill)


Paul Sperry Sings an American Sampler

(Samuel Barber, Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, William Billings, Elliott Carter, Celius Dougherty, John Woods Duke, Stephen Foster, Charles Griffes, John Musto, Ned Rorem, May Swenson, Louise Talma, Hugo Weisgall and Kurt Weill)


Sheet Music

Kurt Weill Songs: A Centennial Anthology, Vol. 2

Composer(s): Kurt Weill

Song(s): River Chanty, Songs of the Free

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Kurt Weill: The Unknown Kurt Weill

Composer(s): Kurt Weill

Song(s): Schickelgruber, Buddy on the Nightshift

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Kurt Weill: Unsung Weill

Composer(s): Kurt Weill

Song(s): Great Big Sky (1946), text by Langston Hughes Street Light Is My Moonlight (1946), text by Langston Hughes You Understand Me So (1948), text by Alan Jay Lerner There's Nothing Left for Daddy (but the Rhumba) (1948), text by Alan Jay Lerner How I Love My Work (1948), text by Alan Jay Lerner Who Am I? (1942), text by Ogden Nash Love in a Mist (1942), text by Ogden Nash Vive la différence (1942), text by Ogden Nash Bats About You (1940), text by Ira Gershwin Unforgettable (1940), text by Ira Gershwin It's Never Too Late to Mendelssohn (1940), text by Ira Gershwin It Could Have Happened to Anyone (1944), text by Ira Gershwin How Far Will You Go with Me? (1938), text by Maxwell Anderson The Little Tin God (1949), text by Maxwell Anderson Too Much to Dream (1937), text by Sam Coslow The Romance of a Lifetime (1937), text by Sam Coslow The Picture on the Wall (date unknown), text by Ann Ronell Your Technique (date unknown), text by Ann Ronell The River Is So Blue (1937), text by Ann Ronell The Good Earth (1942), text by Oscar Hammerstein Inventory (1942), text by Lewis Allan Farewell, Goodbye (1936), text by Paul Green

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.