Blitzstein at the BBC, 1943
Blitzstein at the BBC, 1943

The Cradle that Rocked: Blitzstein Radio Documentary Airs Friday

Guy Livingston’s four-part radio documentary on the life and works of Marc Blitzstein, The Cradle That Rocked: Rediscovering Marc Blitzstein, airs this month as part of his American Highways program. The series will air on Fridays on Concert Zender Radio, beginning October 14 at 18h00 Central European Time (12:00 noon EST), and be made available as podcasts via iTunes after airing. Broadcasts on the WFMT network in the U.S. will follow.

The program will survey Blitzstein’s life and work, with episodes on The Cradle Will Rock, Regina, his adaptation of The Threepenny Opera, and his unfinished opera Sacco and Vanzetti. Highlights include historical recordings of Blitzstein and his contemporaries — including Paul Robeson performing and Leonard Bernstein in conversation with Studs Terkel — and interviews with such experts as Jamie Bernstein, Sarah Fishko, conductor John Mauceri, and composer William Bolcom.

Here’s the teaser from American Highways:
“This is the story of a great musician who embraced all the colorfulness of American life. Composer Marc Blitzstein has been largely forgotten, but in the 1930s he was famous for his political musical, The Cradle Will Rock. In the 1940s he was famous again for his Airborne Symphony, written in London during the war. And in the 1950s he made headlines once more, this time for his brilliantly funny and sarcastic adaptation of Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera. And yet, he is virtually unknown today. Jewish, gay, and a stubborn political activist, he was on the margins of the arts world in his lifetime. Although championed by Leonard Bernstein, he had trouble getting his career off the ground, and many of his musicals failed after a few performances. And his death was so tragic that it haunted his legacy for decades. This radio feature aims to celebrate his life with humor, storytelling, and vintage audio, as a new generation discovers his music. Join pianist Guy Livingston for four feature-length episodes, as he recounts the astonishing musical adventures of an American original, Marc Blitzstein.”

Find more information and where to listen here.