Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday

And what better way to celebrate it than by listening to Kurt Weill play and sing his own ballad "Speak Low"?

When Weill and Ogden Nash were collaborating on their musical One Touch of Venus, Nash's idea was to use a line from Much Ado about Nothing as the linchpin of the song's lyrics.  The Shakespeare quote is "Speak low if you speak love" (Act II, scene i).  The German word for "if," however, is wenn, and Weill unconsciously substituted it while writing the song, giving us the haunting line, "speak low when you speak love."

This beautiful recording is from a tape that Weill made for Venus's backers while the musical was in the writing-and-rehearsal stages -- sort of like the daily rushes from a film shoot.  Enjoy.

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