Brook House

David Drew
British writer, editor, music publisher, recording producer

Annual Records 1956-58
Dartington, Stravinsky, Akademie der Künste, Blacher, Lotte Lenya, George Davis, Weill commissions

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Spring/summer: Informal assistant to William Glock as editor of a Gerhard issue of The Score, for publication in September. D contributes a general essay, The Musical Character, and the first-ever catalogue of Gerhard's compositions (almost all of which still unpublished). At the Summer School of Music in Dartington, Gerhard is a guest lecturer. Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions are present at the premiere of Gerhard's String Quartet No.1.

Elliott and Carter, Dartington   DD with Roman Vlad

Also present is Roman Vlad, who directs a film-music class together with D (who has recently corresponded with Milhaud about Satie's score for Entr'acte). Meetings with Richard Rodney Bennett, Cornelius Cardew, Peter Maxwell Davies, Thea Musgrave, Malcolm Williamson, Hugh Wood.

September: Three weeks in Venice: attends the series of baroque and classical concerts associated with the Vacanze Musicali at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory, and the 19th Festival of Contemporary Music at the Biennale, which culminates in the world premiere of Stravinsky's Canticum Sacrum in St Mark's. An extensive review of the festival is published in The Scotsman, and a shorter review of I Vacanze Musicali in The Musical Times. Excursions with Nono and Nuria Schoenberg.

Donald Mitchell

During the return journey by train from Venice, D considers the events of the summer - the first since 1952 without a visit to Darmstadt - and decides to attempt a full-length study of Weill.

Miles Tomalin no longer has space for lodgers, but finds a room for D two floors above, with the actor manager Ronald Adam and his wife. After some months chez Adams, accepts the offer of lodgings with Kathleen and Donald Mitchell, first in Notting Hill Gate, later in Pimlico.

ca. October: Howard Hartog asks D to contribute a chapter on 20th-century French music to a symposium he is editing for Routledge.


The 60-page essay Modern French Music is published in Hartog's symposium, 20th Century Music (Routledge). It is generously reviewed - over-generously, in the author's opinion (the subsequent paperback edition is only a slight improvement). Typically the work of someone moving house, it coincided with a radical pruning of the author's library of minor French (and other) music. Even the Satie collection begun twenty years earlier is set aside for future reconsideration - though that was not to come about for another three decades (but see 1973).

From the Mitchells' Pimlico home D writes to Lotte Lenya, outlining plans for WEILL: LIFE AND WORKS, and seeking her approval as executrix of Weill's Estate. Her husband George Davis replies favourably, and proposes a meeting in Berlin. Routledge are actively interested in publishing the book.

August: At the Summer School of Music in Dartington, the guest of honour is Stravinsky, accompanied by his wife and Robert Craft. Gerhard is a guest lecturer. Stravinsky asks to hear the recording of the premiere of Gerhard's First Symphony under Hans Rosbaud, and listens to it attentively.

Stravinsky and Glock

September: In Berlin. Through Boris Blacher, in his capacity as Vice-President (future President) of the West Berlin Academy of Arts, D is commissioned by the Academy to prepare a catalogue of the holograph manuscripts in Weill's American home. The commission is supported by most of Blacher's colleagues including his former pupil Gottfried von Einem, but fiercely opposed in the name of High German Art by Philipp Jarnach, a member of the Academy and in the early 1920s, one of Weill's influential teachers and friends. The catalogue is to appear in the same series as Josef Rufer's just-published catalogue of the Schoenberg manuscripts in Los Angeles (likewise commissioned by the Academy).

At the Berlin Festival, D meets Lotte Lenya and her husband George Davis, and attends the post-war premiere of Weill's 3-act opera Die Bürgschaft, in a revised version attributed to the librettist Caspar Neher and the director Carl Ebert. Unknown to D at the time, because unattributed, the musical work on the adaptation has been undertaken by von Einem and Francis Burt. Is introduced by George Davis to the American musician, writer, and journalist Paul Moor.

27 November: George Davis dies in Berlin at the age of 51.


January: In Berlin, meets Margarethe Kaiser, the widow of the playwright George Kaiser, now sharing with Lenya an apartment on the Olivaerplatz. Renews acquaintance with Paul Moor. Later in Zürich, meets Caspar Neher and discusses a revision with Lenya a revision of Die Bürgschaft on which they are to collaborate. It will discard all the textual and musical revisions made in 1957, and restore what little had survived from Weill's own revisions. Neher is wholly in favour, and later writes to Lenya to confirm his agreement.

5 March: Visit to Dorking with Oliver Neighbour to hear Vaughan Williams conduct the St Matthew Passion with the local Bach Choir - as he has done every Easter since he founded the choir in 1946.

2 April: Again with Neighbour, D attends the world premiere in London of Vaughan Williams's Ninth Symphony, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. The symphony - which is not as well received as it deserves to be - will be given again during the summer Prom season at the Royal Albert Hall. But that will be the last performance in the composer's lifetime: he dies at his London home on 26 August, a few hours before his planned attendance at the first session for Boult's now historic recording of the Ninth.

Summer/autumn: First visit to USA; with the indispensable help of Margarethe Kaiser (who meticulously deciphers old German script), DD begins work on the Weill papers and manuscripts in Brook House, Weill's home in Rockland County, N.Y. In New York. First of many discussions with Marc Blitzstein. Meetings with many former associates of Weill and with prospective translators, including W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

30 October: Together with Lenya, signs Agreement with Little, Brown and Company of Boston for the American rights in a so-called "official" biography of Weill ('not less than 125,000 words') and in Lenya's autobiography ('not less than 70,000 words'). J.Randall Williams, a senior executive at Little, Brown, will be an active and understanding supporter of the projects until his retirement some ten years later. In due course Faber & Faber - represented concurrently by Peter du Sautoy, Donald Mitchell, and Patrick Carnegy - will assume responsibility for the publication in the UK and Commonwealth of Drew's now voluminous Life & Works.

Begins WEILL: LIFE AND WORKS by writing essays on each of the Broadway musicals. All will be discarded in the early 1960s as fundamentally misguided, and replaced, one by one.

Publications: Topicality and the Universal: the strange case of Weill's 'Die Bürgschaft' (Music and Letters); Brecht versus Opera (The Score); DECCA BOOK OF BALLET (ed. with Robert Boas and Quita Chavez).

Margarethe Kaiser and Lenya (beneath lamp), Berlin 1958 Brook House - the bridge Lenya and Margarethe Kaiser, Brook House, Summer 1958

Margarethe Kaiser and Lenya (beneath lamp), Berlin 1958
Brook House - the bridge
Lenya and Margarethe Kaiser, Brook House, Summer 1958

Photos © 2003 by David Drew



Material Copyright © 2002 David Drew.