The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (7): the composer’s cut

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (7): the composer’s cut


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2020

Sinatra made a hit out of Kurt Weill’s Speak Low in 1943, and would so again with September Song.

So spare a thought for what the composer intended.

Zu soon!

Und jetzt, Mrs Composer:

Love it.



  • Westfan says:

    Sinatra was a natural, such ease and effortless timing, great pipes, no wonder the girls swooned! A pleasure to hear him!

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Clearly, what the composer intended was to make money on the song.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Sorry, I didn’t mean it as snarkily as it came out. My impression is that Weill relied on his great melodic gifts to toss off the song, which is lovely, but also that he was probably most gratified by the number of covers it quickly garnered, including commercially successful ones like Sinatra’s. I doubt he complained about the liberties Sinatra (and others) took with the Urtext.

      That said, I definitely prefer Weill’s piano accompaniment to either band arrangement.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    There have been a gazillion performances and recordings of “Speak Low”, mainly because it is such a gorgeous song that everyone wants to sing.
    In their own disparate ways, Weill, Lenya, and Sinatra all present the song beautifully.
    And you ought to hear Miss Peggy Lee do it…. she’ll break your heart.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is a matter of taste, but I have never enjoyed Frank Sinatra’s versions of any song. Whatever he sings, he turns it into his own style, a style that I identify with 1950’s America (in spite of the fact this recording was made in 1940’s). I would say the same in relation to Bing Crosby. On the other hand, I love Fred Astaire,even as a singer (much more than Gene Kelly, who was also imbued with the spirit of 1950’s). I know that Lotte Lenya took liberties with her husband’s music, but I still find her very enjoyable.

  • adista says:

    I had no idea Weill wrote that

  • Scott Merrell says:

    Annie Ross also sang it frequently and beautifully.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    There is a beautiful orchestral version of this song on an interesting RCA Victor LP – arranged and conducted by Morton Gould. One side represents the “Berlin” Kurt Weill and the other the “New York” Kurt Weill and Gould’s orchestrations vary appropriately. “Mack the Knife” is on both sides but in strikingly different arrangements.

    As was Victor’s habit the freelance orchestra is called “His Symphony Orchestra” but it must have been the cream of the freelancers.

    Highlight of the entire LP: “Train to Johannesburg.” Gould seemed a natural for “train songs” as anybody who has enjoyed, or played, his impressive version of “Beyond the Blue Horizon” can attest.

    Interestingly, and perhaps not insignificantly, even the Kurt Weill foundation’s website promotes the rental of the orchestra parts to these two suites made by Gould.

    • Michael Paré says:

      I have that LP and haven’t listened to it in years. I’ve just dusted it off and placed it on my turntable. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I think Sinatra was wise not to adopt the German accent even if it would have been “authentic”.