In late August of 1928 writer Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill were days away from the premier of their new production “Die Dreigroschenoper”- a reworking of John Gay’s 18th Century drama ” The Beggars Opera” – at Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm.
The leading man, Harald Paulsen, approached the pair with his concerns that his character – Macheath- lacked gravity and requested that something be written to enhance his entrance into the proceedings.
Keen to placate the well-known actor and fearing he would quit, Brecht and Weill hurriedly wrote a song overnight ” Die Morität von Mackie Messer” and inserted it into the show at the eleventh hour.
The production was a huge critical and commercial success for Brecht and Weill, playing 400 times over the next two years. And as ‘The Threepenny Opera’, has been performed more than 10,000 times in 18 languages around the world.
The song, translated into English as ‘Mack The Knife’ , is now one of the most recorded and iconic songs of the 20th Century.