Friday, May 17, 2013

Red Rosa

Red Rosa now has vanished too. (...)
She told the poor what life is about,
And so the rich have rubbed her out.
May she rest in peace.
-Brecht/Weill, "Berliner Requiem"
The Requiem's second and third numbers ("Ballad of the Drowned Girl" and "Marterl") were meant to commemorate the murder of the socialist antiwar activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1919 by a right-wing paramilitary squad, who threw her body into Berlin's Landwehr Canal. Weill's Song-Album for voice and piano (published in 1929) includes a version of "Marterl" which refers to "red Rosa," but in Das Berliner Requiem he substituted Brecht's verse about "Johanna Beck," probably to appease the censors. The fourth and fifth numbers denounce the motive for creating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Brecht views the soldier not as a hero, but as the murder victim of the state.

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