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Honoring Eric Bentley: A Centennial Tribute Concert (The Film)

Honring Eric Benley: A Centennial Tribute Concert - The Film

“In my opinion, and of course in the opinion of many, many others, no one has rendered greater service to the art of the theater than Eric Bentley." — Tony Kushner

Eric Bentley is one of the most respected theater critics, playwrights, editors and translators of our time. For his 100th birthday, a galaxy of stars honored Bentley at Broadway’s legendary Town Hall. The historic evening featured Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, Harold Bloom, James Shapiro, Edward Mendelson, Phillip Lopate, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Michael Paller, and Roger Copeland, and was emceed by Michael Riedel. The participants offered readings from Eric Bentley's classic works and shared their thoughts about Bentley’s influence on them personally and on American theater, music, and culture. Bentley's work with Brecht, his classic books on the theater, and his own great artistry were all highlighted. The evening was punctuated by theater music of Hanns Eisler and Darius Milhaud, whose songs for Mother Courage were performed by Soprano Karyn Levitt in the composer's original, unpublished version for chamber orchestra, conducted by the late multi-Emmy Award winner Glen Roven. Selections from Eric Bentley's Brecht-Eisler Song Book were also performed by Ms. Levitt and the Hanns Eisler Trio. The film captures all the highlights from this one-of-a-kind live event honoring Eric Bentley and his legacy.

On Hollywood and Weimar
Karyn Levitt Performs the Songs of European Composers from the Golden Age of Film

What started as an idea for a tribute to the remarkable composers who found themselves in exile in California in the first half of the last century turned out to be a highly acclaimed and sold-out show in New York City. Celebrating a hugely successful evening, soprano Karyn Levitt and pianist Jed Distler recently brought On Hollywood and Weimar to the legendary NYC cabaret venue Feinstein's/54 Below. This comes on the heels of two equally successful and sold-out performances at Off-Broadway's York Theatre and Triad Theater, and now Royal Road Productions is ready to take the show on tour.

Soprano/Producer/Writer: Karyn Levitt
Music Director/Pianist: Jed Distler
Directed by: Michael Unger

“Introduced me to a repertoire and stories that were mostly new to me…. A rich theme…. Terrific and expressive singing. Beautiful work!”
-- James Gavin, award-winning music journalist and acclaimed author

Illustration by Joan Chiverton

On Hollywood and Weimar, created by and starring soprano Karyn Levitt with pianist Jed Distler, celebrates the glorious music of old Hollywood by European composers from the Golden Age of Film. Musical geniuses, like Kurt Weill, Erich Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Hanns Eisler – many of whom had escaped to Southern California from Nazi Europe — brought from their respective homelands the highest level of culture, which they poured into the American film industry: they blended the music of the old world and the new, thereby creating and inventing the uniquely hybrid sound of Hollywood films. American music benefited as we became heir to their legacy.

From dusty westerns and sweeping romances to the thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, Karyn Levitt and Jed Distler perform eleven composers’ songs in a theatrically-directed, choreographed, and gorgeously lit musicological journey through some of Hollywood’s most iconic film scores. The songs range in style from Weimar cabaret and operetta to country-western, classical art song, and jazz… from “Falling in Love Again” to “On Green Dolphin Street,” from “San Francisco” to “Spellbound,” from “Rawhide” and “(High Noon) Do Not Forsake Me” to Kurt Weill’s “Song of Ruth,” and more! (Running time: 75 minutes.)

Karyn Levitt is a leading interpreter of this impressive repertoire. She curated all the songs and wrote the narration, which together make the program a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. As a distinguished artist/producer, Ms. Levitt is known for her historic collaboration with the foremost Brecht translator, Eric Bentley — whose centennial tribute (hosted by Michael Riedel and featuring Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, and other theater luminaries) she produced at The Town Hall and whose work she performs in concert and recorded on her CD, Eric Bentley's Brecht-Eisler Song Book.

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Golden Land Concerts & Connections, Inc.
Tel: (212) 683-7816
Email: [email protected]

RAVE Reviews for A Hanns Eisler Cabaret

Alexandra Ivanoff for Arts Review Europe
RAVE review for A Hanns Eisler Cabaret

Eric Bentley's Brecht-Eisler Song Book
Illustration by Joan Chiverton

About the On Hollywood and Weimar Show

Award-winning music journalist and acclaimed book author James Gavin wrote to Ms. Levitt after the On Hollywood and Weimar show at the York Theatre:

“Karyn: BRAVA! [...] I cannot congratulate or praise you enough for the beautiful work you did, for introducing me to a repertoire and stories that were mostly new to me, and for your terrific and expressive singing. [...] What a rich theme you chose, and you drew the ultimate depth out of it. [...] It was my honor to be there to experience a show that good. It taught me a lot and gave me so much pleasure.”

Karyn Levitt

Photo by James Gavin

About the CD Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book

Eric Bentley's Brecht-Eisler Song Book, released on ROVEN RECORDS, received a RAVE review from the Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft in Berlin. Read the full review!

“A highly successful new release... by Karyn Levitt, Eric Ostling, Brecht, Eisler and Eric Bentley – it comes with a warm recommendation, not only to English-speaking audiences.”
--Peter Deeg, Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft

This new CD is the culmination of Levitt’s journey, under the mentoring of Eric Bentley, into the world and music of Hanns Eisler. “I regard it as a privilege that in our numerous coaching sessions over the years, Eric Bentley has given me his unpublished translations of Eisler songs with words by Goethe, Heine, Eichendorff, Leopardi, Anacreon, Karl Kraus, and even Shakespeare,” says Karyn Levitt. “Eisler’s stylistic range is dazzling. Few composers have used Schoenbergian techniques to such lyrical ends, and few would dispute that Eisler was as important a song composer as Schubert. Brecht and Eisler were one of the 20th century’s great musical partnerships.”

Our Hanns Eisler Cabaret at Cafe Sabarsky in THE NEUE GALERIE on March 31st, 2016 was a TRIUMPH!

Celebrated soprano Karyn Levitt and the Hanns Eisler Trio (William Schimmel and Ira Siegel, led by musical director Eric Ostling) performed to a sold-out house in the amazing Cafe Sabarsky. The audience LOVED the show!!!