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Barry Humphries And Meow Meow Live Photo C Claudio Raschella

Cabaret in the Weimar Republic

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Get to know the raucous, revolutionary music of the Weimar Republic ahead of Barry Humphries' concert at the International Festival this August.

In 1928, while the grand concert halls of Vienna took in the new atonal music of Schoenberg and Berg, Kurt Weill was presenting The Threepenny Opera at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin. This saucy, searingly anti-capitalist “play with music” written alongside collaborator Bertolt Brecht, came to embody the subversive creativity of the music of the Weimar Republic.   

Germany became a republic at the end of the First World War. An explosion of revolutionary art, culture and ideology ensued; the Weimar Republic, with Berlin at its heart, was full to bursting with new possibilities. Berlin “played host to Communists, Nazis, Social Democrats, nationalists, New Objectivists, Expressionists, Dadaists and straggling Romantics. Its spirit spoke in the meeting of opposites.”[I]

Somehow, before any major disaster in history, art takes on a new lustre. Suddenly it flares up.

Barry Humphries

Composers like Kurt Weill and Ernst Krenek shunned contemporary trends in Western composition, took influence from Jazz across the Atlantic and created a new kind of music; raucous, radical and fiercely political.

Barry Humphries' Weimar Cabaret, playing this August at the Edinburgh International Festival, presents a cross section of Weimar cabaret works, from the comic, to the heart wrenching, to the utterly ferocious. 

Cabaret artist Meow Meow, who will be performing in Barry Humphries' Weimar Cabaret feels a deep connection with the music of the Weimar Republic. In this music, she says, there is a ‘closeness of death and love, and [a] sense of mortality that’s in a lot of the work,…it’s so true to the way the brain and the heart function.’

Cabaret artist Meow Meow, who will be performing in Barry Humphries' Weimar Cabaret feels a deep connection with the music of the Weimar Republic. In this music, she says, there is a ‘closeness of death and love, and [a] sense of mortality that’s in a lot of the work,…it’s so true to the way the brain and the heart function.’

Unpolished, subversive and unapologetically satirical; at its heart Weimar cabaret music speaks of freedom of thought and expression. This is music that titillates, that shocks, that invites you to confront the unruliness of your human nature. 


Photo Credit:

Meow Meow © Mihaela Bodlovic
BArry Humphries & Meow Meow © Claudio Raschella

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