Kunze & Levay


Michael Kunze

Michael Kunze is an outstanding lyricist and librettist of the German musical theater. Among the many shows he has adapted for the German-speaking countries are EVITA, CATS, A CHORUS LINE, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, INTO THE WOODS, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN and SUNSET BOULEVARD. He also wrote ELISABETH, the most successful original European musical ever, currently running in Scheveningen & Karlstad.

Michael was born on November 9, 1943 in Prague and grew up in Munich, where he studied law. In the late 1960s, he started to write lyrics for pop singers, and soon became one of the best known songwriters of Germany, which is the third biggest record-market in the world.

In 1969 he decided to produce his own songs. His recordings dominated the charts of the 1970s in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. When he eventually produced his first international act, he hit the top of both the Billboard and Cashbox charts in the US. His group, SILVER CONVENTION, represented by composer Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze himself, was the first German group to win the coveted Grammy Award.

Based on his spectacular success in the U.S. - after Fly, Robin, Fly came such hits as Lady Bump and Get up and Boogie - Michael produced albums with a vast and varied array of internationally known performers, including Julio Iglesias, Nana Mouskouri, Herbie Mann, Lulu, Gilbert Becaud, Sister Sledge and Caterina Valente.

At the top of his success, he took a breather from show business and wrote a book, "Highroad to the Stake", that not only was awarded the 1981 Faculty Prize by the Munich University Law School, but also was translated into several languages. It was highly praised in a four-page review in the New York Times Book Review Supplement.

In the 1980s, the musical began making its way into the center of Michael Kunze's activities. First, he adapted Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita , which was the beginning of his collaboration and friendship with the legendary Broadway director, Harold Prince. The success of his adaptation opened the doors of the German-speaking market for the modern Anglo-American musical. Michael's reputation is in making the German versions sound as if they were the original. By now, he is the preferred collaborator of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, and others.

Michael will devote the 1990s to the writing of original musicals. His first show, Hexen Hexen (Witches), was a four-week open air event in the summer of 1991 that drew an audience of sixty thousand to the historic site where it was performed (Heilbronn, Germany).

In September 1992, his musical ELISABETH, about the life of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, opened in Vienna's prestigious "Theater an der Wien" (music: Sylvester Levay; director: Harry Kupfer, production designer: Hans Schavernoch), where it broke box office records. The show is regarded as the re-birth of the contemporary continental musical theater in Europe. A Japanese production is currently shown in Osaka and Tokyo and a Hungarian production opened August 17, 1996 in Szeged and Budapest.

In 1997 he wrote the libretto for the musical TANZ DER VAMPIRE, based on the Roman Polanski movie "The Fearless Vampire Killers". The musical continues to run at the Raimund Theater, Vienna.

In October 1999, MOZART! opened at Theater der Wien. The music is again by Sylvester Levay; the first collaboration between Kunze & Levay since the success of ELISABETH.

Michael Kunze lives alternately in Munich and New York. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Inc.

Sylvester Levay

Coming soon