Abstracts of issue 12-13 (2000)

Minas I. Alexiadis

Problems Concerning the Influence of Jazz on European Art Music in the 20s and in the Operas of Kurt Weill

This article examines some problems associated with the perception and the meaning of the term Jazz in Europe at the time. These parameters apply also to the factor of jazz within the operas of Kurt Weill. By presenting some excerpts of relevant studies and examples from scores, Minas Alexiadis aim is to show that the presumed jazz influence on Weills music theatre is limited to some certain points. First, it applies only to the song forms (and not the elaborated symphonic sections) within those operas. Then, it is associated with the use of the jazz-band, a feature which has been largely used by European composers of that time, often by overlooking more important elements of jazz, such as improvisation, swing and the peculiar kind of jazz performance. So, this essay assumes that Weill has been associated to jazz mostly due to the well-known posterior practice: though there was hardly any influence of authentic improvised jazz on these operas, jazz musicians and improvisers included Weill songs in their repertoire as standards, by performing and improvising on them in jazz-style.