Ether Game

Weill: On the Rio Grande

Here’s a hint: war starts “Weill” you least expect it…

Kurt Weill turned to a European source for his first work composed for the American stage. Nevertheless, he still managed to give it the “tinge” of his adopted country. Johnny Johnson is a broad anti-war satire set during the First World War. The protagonist, Johnny, a good-hearted American farm boy, does his patriotic duty by enlisting, and subsequently endures a series of misadventures ranging from the bizarre to the darkly humorous to the utterly horrifying. Writer and librettist Paul Green loosely adapted a Czech novel, Jaroslav Hasek’s “The Good Soldier Švejk” but together, he and Weill crammed it with an almost encyclopedic array of references to American popular genres. As we just heard, this included a singing cowboy, who in the trenches of France is very far from home indeed.

Music Heard On This Episode

Kurt Weill (1900-1950): “On the Rio Grande” from Johnny Johnson
Rene de la Garza; Joel Cohen/Otaré Pit Band — Music for Johnny Johnson (Elektra , 1997)
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album cover
Kurt Weill (1900-1950): “On the Rio Grande” from Johnny Johnson
Rene de la Garza; Joel Cohen/Otaré Pit Band — Music for Johnny Johnson (Elektra , 1997)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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