The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at barbican.org.uk
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at barbican.org.uk

Reviving the music of the Weimar Republic

Barry Humphries tells us why he loves music from 1920s and 30s Berlin, and what we can look forward to at his Weimar Cabaret.

‘This should really be subtitled “the music Hitler hated”,’ says Barry Humphries of his show Weimar Cabaret – which sees him as we’ve never seen him before, taking us on revelatory tour of mainly Jewish composers from the 1920s and 30s whose music was denounced by the Nazis.

The upbeat blending of classical and popular music that was the sonic backdrop for many in the Weimar Republic is sadly now slipping from public consciousness.

But what also appeals to me is it’s really about the triumph of art over tyranny

But Humphries is on a mission to revive the sounds that first enchanted him as a teenager in his native Melbourne and remains a source of great passion for him.

As emcee of the show he introduces us to some of the greats from the time, including Kurt Weill, Friedrich Hollaender and Erwin Schulhoff. Renowned cabaret artist and singer Meow Meow performs, accompanied by Aurora Orchestra.

‘I became interested in this music in my schooldays,’ remembers Humphries. ‘There was an influx of émigrés from Austria and Germany to Melbourne in the late 1930s, so we inherited a kind of cultural tradition that was not our own.

‘It’s very good music, very bright and uplifting,’ he says. ‘But what also appeals to me is it’s really about the triumph of art over tyranny.’

Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret takes place 11–29 Jul in our Theatre.