Kurt Weill

Knickerbocker Holiday, musical play

    Description by Patsy Morita

    Knickerbocker Holiday was a 1938 Broadway effort of playwright Maxwell Anderson and composer Kurt Weill. The play yielded the hit "September Song," a piece that's been recorded more often than any of Weill's other songs.

    The plot begins with Washington Irving, who, after deciding to write a history of New York, is thrust back in time to witness the arrival of New Amsterdam's governor, Peter Stuyvesant. One of the festivities planned for Stuyvesant's arrival is a hanging. Of course, the condemned man, Brom Broeck, objects to the plan. Stuyvesant becomes dictatorial, but Irving urges him to think of how he will be remembered in history and the day is saved.

    There is no overall style to Weill's score; the music is a mixture of Broadway-, vaudeville-, and operetta-style songs appropriate to each scene. The song "The One Indispensable Man," a mocking tribute to one of the town councilors, is similar to the ballads in The Threepenny Opera. "It Never Was You," the duet between Broeck and his beloved is reminiscent of Sigmund Romberg's operettas, although it definitely sounds like a Broadway tune of the 1930s. "How Can You Tell an American?" (the answer is he's the one who can't take orders) borrows from Gershwin's Strike Up the Band. "September Song," written especially for the show's star, Walter Huston, is the one piece out of 28 in the show that has proven to be pure Weill, a touching song about how precious love is, a theme also covered by Weill's later hit, Speak Low.


    1. No. 1 Washington Irving Song
    2. No. 2 Clickety-Clack
    3. No. 3 Entrance of the Council
    4. No. 4 Hush Hush (replaced "It's a Law")
    5. No. 5 There's Nowhere to Go But Up (replaced "I Do Business in My Hat")
    6. No. 6 It Never Was You
    7. No. 7 How Can You Tell an American? (replaced "Brom's Complaint")
    8. [No. 8 Another Law (withdrawn)]
    9. No. 9 Will You Remember Me?...The Hanging (orchestra)
    10. No. 10 Stuyvesant's Entrance (orchestra; replaced song "The Consequence is Awful")
    11. No. 11 One Touch of Alchemy
    12. No. 12 Exit of the Council (orchestra)
    13. No. 13 The One Indispensable Man
    14. No. 14 Young People Think About Love
    15. No. 15 September Song
    16. No. 16 Dutch Dance (orchestra; replaced song "Clump! Clump!")
    17. No. 17 All Hail the Political Honeymoon
    18. No. 18 Ballad of the Robbers (replaced "Old Pete Is in the City" based on No. 10)
    19. No. 19 Sitting in Jail
    20. No. 20 We Are Cut in Twain
    21. No. 21 reprise of No. 5
    22. No. 22 The Army of New Amsterdam (orchestra)
    23. No. 23 To War!
    24. No. 24 Our Ancient Liberties
    25. No. 25 Exit of Council (orchestra)
    26. No. 26 May and January
    27. No. 27 The Scars (two versions, second used)
    28. No. 28 Algonquins from Harlem (battle music for orchestra)
    29. No. 29 Dirge for a Soldier
    30. No. 30 We Want to Make the Laws
    31. No. 30a Incidental music
    32. No. 31 Reprise of No. 5 (replaced Epilogue)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2011 Ghostlight 84450
    1995 AEI 7
    1995 AEI 7