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Marc Blitzstein: a brief biography
1935 - 1941
MB with his wife Eva
MB on stage during a performance of the Cradle
John Houseman and Orson Welles in 1937
MB with Bernstein in 1940
“It is clear to me”, Blitzstein wrote in 1935, “that the conception of music in society … is dying of acute anachronism; and that a fresh idea, overwhelming in its implications and promise, is taking hold. Music must have a social as well as artistic base; it should broaden its scope and reach not only the select few but the masses”.

Thus he turned to the kind of socially conscious popular theatre created by Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler, and even repudiated his past criticisms of Weill. He wrote numerous articles that were published in left-wing journals such as 'New Masses' and 'Masses and Mainstream'. In essays and reviews that appeared in the summer of 1936 he attacked Stravinsky's APOLLON MUSAGETE for "its suave, dry, elegant manoeuvres, its French court nymphs and gods" and he characterised Ravel's BOLERO as "a piece whose vulgarity and cheapness are consummate, this choice opium package was not smuggled in, we got it at the hands of Toscanini and the Philharmonic". Fundamental to the formation of these beliefs was the critic and novelist Eva Goldbeck (born in Berlin in 1901). They had met in 1928, and travelled together throughout Europe. She was the dedicatee of his ROMANTIC PIECE FOR ORCHESTRA and his STRING QUARTET. They married in Philadelphia on March 2nd, 1933, Blitzstein's twenty-eighth birthday.

Although he knew himself to be homosexual, he found in Eva a mind that would match his own, a foil and support for his ideals. He also knew that it would do him no harm to shelter behind the respectability of married life. Although Eva was under no illusions about her husband’s sexuality, theirs was a deep and intense relationship, and, although widely perceived by those who knew them as a 'mariage de convenance', Eva's diaries indicate that it was a marriage in the fullest sense.

Struggling against breast cancer, and always frail, Eva died suddenly on May 26th, 1936, of an illness that we now know to be anorexia nervosa. Blitzstein was shattered, and in order to escape his grief, he threw himself into his work, beginning composition of a political opera, suggested to him by Brecht some months earlier.

The political opera was THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, and the sensational premiere, under Orson Welles' direction, made Blitzstein a famous man. Finding inspiration from his newly discovered political consciousness, THE CRADLE WILL ROCK was followed by further political works, most notably the radio play I’VE GOT THE TUNE (1937), dedicated to Welles, and the musical play/opera NO FOR AN ANSWER, first performed in 1941.It was during this period that the endeavours of a brilliant young student came to his notice through a production at Harvard of THE CRADLE WILL ROCK. It was in 1939 that Blitzstein first met Leonard Bernstein, and the two formed a musical and personal bond of immense importance to both.
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