Marriage certificate of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya (1937)

Marriage certificate: Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya
The marriage certificate from the second marriage ceremony of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, Westchester County/USA, 1937
Kurt Weill Foundation, © Yale Music Archive

Marriage certificate of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya (1937)

Heute ist es 11 Jahre her, dass wir zum ersten Mal geheiratet haben, und jetzt bist du schon zum zweiten Mal ein Weillchen, du musst eben alles doppelt haben, du Ameisenblume.

[It is eleven years ago today that we got married for the first time, and now already you are a little Weill for the second time, you just have to have everything twice, you flower of the Ameisegasse. (ed. trans.)]

Kurt Weill to Lotte Lenya, January 28, 1937

The marriage certificate of the composer Kurt Weill and the actress Lotte Lenya contains a special love story which is tightly bound up with the situation of exile. On January 28, 1926 Weill and Lenya married for the first time in Berlin. After some happy years, their marriage was tested several times over: after her breakthrough as an actress in Berlin, Lotte Lenya had many offers from other theatres and was often on tour. In particular, the Vienna production of Bertolt Brechts play Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny in the spring of 1932 led to the couple’s estrangement, as Lenya fell in love with her stage partner, the tenor Otto Pasetti. Kurt Weill on his part began a love affair with the wife of the stage designer Caspar Neher. Lotte Lenya filed for divorce in January 1933. They both remained on friendly terms with each other, however: Lenya helped Weill escape from Germany, tried to save Weill’s property from confiscation by the Nazis, and sent him furniture when he was exiled in France. The letters from this time are characterised by an amicable tone.

In October 1934 and after the end of her affair with Pasetti, Lotte Lenya returned to Weill, who was then living in Louveciennes near Paris. Much work-related travelling followed until both were reunited in London in April 1935. They left Europe together on board the MS Majestic in September 1935 and immediately described themselves as a married couple on their arrival in New York on September 10, 1935 – perhaps in order to obtain a joint residence permit more easily. However, they also testified their re-awakened love officially on January 19, 1937, when they married for the second time in Westchester County, to the north of New York City.