September Song - The Music of Kurt Weill

The first in a three-part series of recordings from Dick Hyman, legendary pianist, organist, music director and all-around renowned musician. These recordings, originally intended to be part of a larger set featuring the music of the great composers of popular music, were made in the early '50s, and demonstrate both the excellence of Weill's songwriting and the inventiveness and style of Hyman's playing. We're happy to offer this album for the first time on CD.

"This is such a treat for Dick Hyman fans, I can't tell you how happy I was to finally get this.It's great to hear what he was doing 'way back when'." -James Crane, NJ

"Hyman's deft phrasing is impeccable." -George Harris, jazzweekly.com

In 1952 when he was 25, the great virtuoso pianist Dick Hyman, who was near the beginning of a very productive career, recorded a series of full-length albums that explored the music of several composers. Rather than pick the usual suspects (Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, etc.), he focused on writers who were best known for writing songs for the theater. Kurt Weill (1900-50) would never think of himself as a jazz composer despite the fact that a few of his songs; "Speak Low," "My Ship" and "This Is New" became jazz standards. His biggest jazz hit; "Mack The Knife," was originally sung in The Threepenny Opera as a somewhat scary ballad called "Moritat." Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin did not turn it into a swinging tune until years after Weill's death. Born and raised in Germany as part of a Jewish family, Weill started taking piano lessons when he was 12 and wrote his first song a year later. He began to perform in public as a pianist in 1915 but found his voice through writing rather than playing music. He studied classical music in school and wrote his first string quartet when he was 18. Weill wrote classical works for the next few years, even as he struggled with his family in poverty. He had a variety of mostly musical jobs, teaching music theory and composition privately to students during 1923-25. As the 1920s progressed, Weill became more involved with popular music and the theater, having several great successes, particularly 1928's The Threepenny Opera.

But with the rise of the Nazis, he left Germany in March 1933. After a brief period in Paris, he eventually settled in the United States, becoming a citizen in 1943 and staying busy writing for the theater and occasional films. While Weill's productions (such as "A Kingdom For A Cow," "The Eternal Road," "Street Scene," "Mahogany," "Happy End," "One Touch Of Venus," "Lady in The Dark" and "Knickerbocker Holiday") are largely forgotten today, it is his music that lives on. Dick Hyman performs solo piano versions of 14 Kurt Weill pieces on this CD. While a few of the songs are familiar; "Speak Low," "Lost In The Stars," "My Ship," "This Is New" and "September Song," most of the other tunes are rarely performed but well worth reviving. Such numbers as; "It Never Was You," "Sing Me Not A Ballad" and "How Much I Love You" are quite obscure but are typical of Kurt Weill's best work, having haunting melodies and original chord changes. Dick Hyman does justice to all of the music, keeping the melody close by while coming up with tasteful and swinging variations. As a bonus, the CD has the original liner notes from 1952 and they are quite definitive. - Scott Yanow


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Green-Up Time It Never Was You Foolish Heart To Love You And To Lose You Speak Now Moon faced, Starry-eyed Sing Me Not A Ballad Lost In The Stars My Ship Trouble Man One Life To Live This Is New September Song How Much I Love You

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Dick Hyman
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer Kurt Weill
Accompanist/ Conductor No


Customer Reviews (2)

"Magical!"Review by Big Toots
PRO 01 Dick Hyman – “September Song” Kurt Weill

With September Song, celebrated and multi-talented pianist Dick Hyman – himself no stranger to great compositions and productions - runs through 14 of Kurt Weill’s works in the highest and most elegant style – the classic (“September Song,” “My Ship,” “Speak Low”) and the obscure (the flitty “Green-Up Time,” and the rag-like “Moon-Faced and Starry-eyed”). As will be obvious in listening here, Hyman, playing solo piano throughout, has awesome virtuoso technique – at times flourishing Tatum-esque runs, cascades and arpeggios and at others displaying a technique that perfectly seams with the more Romantic and theatrical aspect of Weill’s melodies. There are also shades of orchestral stylings in Hyman’s playing as the emotional impact of Weill’s writing is delivered superbly. Weill and Hyman seem to be musically simpatico - a pair of birds of a common musical feather – and they certainly fly high here.

Weill’s pen was more Classical than a pure jazz style and with September Song Hyman’s playing is appropriately sublime. He brilliantly uses his broad-ranging dynamic intensity throughout the album to mirror same in Weill’s compositions (“Sing Me Not a Ballad,” “Lost in the Stars,” and “Moon-Faced and Starry-eyed”). Highlights include the eponymous title selection as well as the beautifully undulating “My Ship” (later brought to jazz audiences via the classic Gil Evans-Miles Davis collaborations).

“September Song” is one of those gorgeous albums that seem best played when the mind is clear and one can allow one’s dreams to take flight as co-pilots Weill and Hyman man the musical cockpit.

(Posted on 6/4/2015)
September SongReview by Simon Sez
In his long career, Dick Hyman has shown that he can play piano in just about any style. Well on his three recordings for Proscenium, he shows that he has always had his own style too.

This is one of Hyman’s first albums, dating from 1952. He plays 14 Kurt Weill songs, some of which are well known including “Speak Low,” “My Ship,” and “September Song,” but many of which are pretty obscure. No matter, Hyman does a great job of stating the melody and then coming up with solos that keep the melody in mind. This album shows that he was a master from the start of his career.

Simon Sez: Dick Hyman, on Plays The Music Of Kurt Weill (Proscenium 01), performs 14 of Weill’s best songs and does them justice. (Posted on 5/6/2014)

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