Mac the Knife.Poem.Berthold Brecht.(1898-1956)Translated John Willet.Reader Tom O’Bedlam.


Editor’s Note: these comments below accompany the text. ‘Not Mack the Knife’. It’s a later translation by John Willet and truer to the original score and it’s not known of anyone who sings all of it. Brecht was impressed by John Gay’s ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ 1728 , and wrote his own musical version in German, ‘Die Driegroschenoper’ (The Threepenny Opera) in 1928. Like the original it is set in London, McHeath presumably is a cockney. There’s an epidemic of knifings  amongst London teenagers, yet Mack the Knife is popular and sung as a jaunty little number. If you listen to the version of Brecht’s musical you realise that it wasn’t meant that way. He’s become a folk hero. We accept he’s a thief and a murderer, so why should it come as a surprise he’s a child rapist too? Why leave that out?

 

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