Tag Archives: Mack The Knife

Almanac – April 03

1882 – Jesse James died.  American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber and murderer, and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. Already a celebrity when he was alive, he became a legendary figure of the Wild West after his death.

 He was killed by Robert Ford,  a member of the gang living in the James house,  who was hoping to collect a state reward on James’ head.

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1949 – Richard Thompson born. British songwriter, guitarist and recording and performing musician. Highly regarded for his guitar techniques and strange, darkly-funny lyrics, Thompson’s music has been consistently lavished with praise by critics and by his peers throughout his long career.

He made his debut as a recording artist as a member of Fairport Convention in September 1967, and continues to write and record new material regularly and performs live frequently throughout the world.

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1950 – Kurt Weill died.  German composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States.

 He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, with whom  he developed productions such as his best-known work The Threepenny Opera, a Marxist critique of capitalism, which included the ballad “Mack the Knife”.

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Almanac – March 02

1717 – The Loves of Mars and Venus –  the first ballet performed in England – made its premiere at the Drury Lane Theater in London.

The creation of choreographer John Weaver,  the story of the ballet was derived from Greek mythology, although Weaver’s immediate source was P.A. Motteux‘s play, The Loves of Mars and Venus.

The role of Venus was performed by  Hester Santlow, who was highly regarded for her beauty, dancing, and ability as an actress. Although it is not certain, many believe the role of Mars was performed by the French dancer Louis Dupre.

At the time, most classical ballet was nearly devoid of dramatic content, and Weaver sought to change that using  dancing, gestures and movement to convey the plot and emotions of the ballet, without relying on spoken or sung text.

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1825 – Roberto Cofresí,  one of the last successful Caribbean pirates, was defeated in combat and captured by authorities.

Better known as El Pirata Cofresí,  he  was the most renowned pirate in Puerto Rico, and his life story, particularly in its Robin Hoodsteal from the rich, give to the poor” aspect, has become legendary in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of Latin America. It has inspired countless songs, poems, books and films.

The entire town of Cofresí, near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, was named after him.

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1900 – Kurt Weill born. German composer, active from the 1920s,  in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, with whom he developed productions such as his most well known work The Threepenny Opera, a Marxist critique of capitalism, which included the ballad “Mack the Knife“.

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1930 – D. H. Lawrence died. English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter . His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

Lawrence’s opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile which he called his “savage pilgrimage”.

At the time of his death – from complications of tuberculosis –  his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, “The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.”

Later, the influential Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness, placing much of Lawrence’s fiction within the canonical “great tradition” of the English novel. Lawrence is now valued by many as a visionary thinker and significant representative of modernism in English literature.

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1933 – The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Variety thought the film a powerful adventure. The New York Times gave readers an enthusiastic account of the plot and thought the film a fascinating adventure,  although the   film’s subtextual threat to Aryan womanhood got Kong banned in Nazi Germany.

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1942 – Lou Reed born. American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his solo career, which has spanned several decades.

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1991 – Serge Gainsbourg died. French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director.

Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to reggae, funk, rock, electronic and disco music – his extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize.

His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.

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Almanac – August 31

12 – Caligula born.

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1810 – Eliza Hancock, while gleaning in a field in the parish of Box, near Bath, was accused of stealing wheat from the sheaves, which she denied, and wished she might be struck dead if she had.

She was found dead in the field about two hours after.

The Stamford News, 1810

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1867 – Charles Baudelaire died.  French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century.

Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

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1888 – Mary Ann “Polly”  Nichols murdered. Generally considered the first victim of Jack The Ripper.

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1928 – The Threepenny Opera, by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, had its premier in Berlin.

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