"Mack the Knife" or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife", originally "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The song has become a popular standard.The song was first introduced to American audiences in 1933 in the first English-language production of The Threepenny Opera. The English lyrics were by Gifford Cochran and Jerrold Krimsky.[ That production, however, was not successful, closing after a run of only ten days. In the best known English translation, from the Marc Blitzstein 1954 version of The Threepenny Opera, which played Off-Broadway for well over six years,the words are:

Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

Blitzstein's translation provides the basis for most of the popular versions we know today, including those by Louis Armstrong (1956) and Bobby Darin (1959-Darin's lyrics differ slightly), and most subsequent swing versions.

 

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