Hofmannsthal, Hugo von

Hofmannsthal, Hugo von
born Feb. 1, 1874, Vienna, Austria
died July 15, 1929, Rodaun, a suburb of Vienna

Austrian poet, dramatist, and essayist.

Born into an aristocratic banking family, he made his reputation with lyric poems (the first published when he was 16) and verse plays, including The Death of Titian (1892) and Death and the Fool (1893). He renounced lyrical poetry in a 1902 essay and thereafter turned to theatre; his later plays include Christina's Journey Home (1910), Everyman (1911), The Difficult Man (1921), and The Tower (1925). In 1906 he began a celebrated collaboration with the composer Richard Strauss; their remarkable first opera, Elektra (1908), was followed by Der Rosenkavalier (1910), Ariadne auf Naxos (1912, revised 1916), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), and others. In 1920 he cofounded the Salzburg Festival with Max Reinhardt.

* * *

▪ Austrian author

born Feb. 1, 1874, Vienna
died July 15, 1929, Rodaun, a suburb of Vienna
 Austrian poet, dramatist, and essayist. He made his reputation with his lyrical poems and plays and became internationally famous for his collaboration with the German operatic composer Richard Strauss.

      The only child of a bank director, Hofmannsthal studied law at Vienna. At 16 he published his first poems, under the pseudonym Loris. They created a stir in Vienna and in Germany with their lyrical beauty, magic evocativeness of language, and dreamlike quality. Their anticipation of mature experience and formal virtuosity seem incredible in one so young. After his year of compulsory military service, he studied Romance philology with a view to an academic career but in 1901 married and became a free-lance writer.

      Between 1891 and 1899 Hofmannsthal wrote a number of short verse plays, influenced by the static dramas of the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, the dramatic monologues of the English Romantic poet Robert Browning, and the proverbes dramatiques of the French poet Alfred de Musset. These plays include Gestern (1891; “Yesterday”), Der Tod des Tizian (1892; The Death of Titian, 1913), Der Tor und der Tod (1893; Death and the Fool, 1913), Das kleine Welttheater (1897; “The Little Theatre of the World”), Der Weisse Fächer (1898; partially translated as The White Fan, 1909), Die Frau im Fenster (1898; Madonna Dianora, 1916), Der Abenteurer und die Sängerin (1899; The Adventurer and the Singer, 1917–18), and Die Hochzeit der Sobeide (1899; The Marriage of Sobeide, 1961). Of the same exquisite beauty as the poems, these playlets are lyric reflections on appearance and reality, transience and timelessness, and continuity and change within the human personality—themes constantly recurring in his later works. After the turn of the century, however, Hofmannsthal renounced purely lyrical forms in his essay “Ein Brief” (also called “Chandos Brief,” 1902). This essay was more than the revelation of a personal predicament; it has come to be recognized as symptomatic of the crisis that undermined the esthetic Symbolist movement of the end of the century.

      During a period of reorientation and transition Hofmannsthal experimented with Elizabethan and classical tragic forms, adapting Thomas Otway's Venice Preserv'd (1682) as Das gerettete Venedig (1904) and writing Elektra (1903), later set to music by Strauss. At the same time he began his novel, Andreas (1932; The United, 1936), which he never completed. The theatre increasingly became his medium. To the end of his life he collaborated with Strauss, writing the librettos for the operas Der Rosenkavalier (performed 1911; “The Cavalier of the Rose”), Ariadne auf Naxos (1912), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919; “The Woman Without a Shadow”), Die ägyptische Helena (1928; Helen in Egypt, 1963), and Arabella (performed 1933).

      After World War I, with the theatrical producer and designer Max Reinhardt, he founded the Salzburg Festival, at which performances have regularly been given of his Jedermann (1911; “Everyman”) and Das Salzburger grosse Welttheater (1922; The Great Salzburg Theatre of the World, 1963). His comedies, Cristinas Heimreise (1910; Christina's Journey Home, 1916), Der Schwierige (1921; The Difficult Man, 1963), and Der Unbestechliche (performed 1923, published 1956; “The Incorruptible”), are written in Viennese dialect and set in contemporary Austrian society; concerned with moral issues, they blend realism with concealed symbolism.

      Hofmannsthal's reflections on the crisis and disintegration of European civilization after World War I found expression in his political drama Der Turm (1925; The Tower, 1963) and in several essays that were prophetic of the future of Western culture. He responded to the collapse of the Habsburg empire by an increased awareness of his Austrian heritage, at the same time committing himself to the European tradition. His art continued to develop, and he always maintained the delicate grace and sense of transcendent beauty typical of his earliest works, but he was unable to accommodate himself to the 20th century.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • HOFMANNSTHAL, HUGO VON — (1874–1929), Austrian poet and playwright; one of the outstanding exponents of Viennese impressionism and symbolism. He was a great grandson of isaac loew hofmann but his grandfather and father both converted to Roman Catholicism. While the poet… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hofmannsthal,Hugo von — Hof·manns·thal (hôfʹmäns täl , hōfʹ ), Hugo von. 1874 1929. Austrian writer who established his reputation with lyric poems and a number of plays, including Yesterday (1891) and Death and the Fool (1893). * * * …   Universalium

  • Hofmannsthal, Hugo von — (1874–1929)    The son of a bank director, Hofmannsthal was an awesome literary prodigy. His early, and already accomplished, verse appeared under the pseudonym of Loris because publishing the writing of minors was illegal. Though he studied at… …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • Hofmannsthal, Hugo von — (1874 1929)    Playwright. Hofmannsthal is closely associated with even, in the minds of some critics at the time, embodied the decadent culture of Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, when Vienna acutely felt the tremors of social and… …   Historical dictionary of German Theatre

  • Hofmannsthal, Hugo von — ► (1874 1929) Poeta y dramaturgo austríaco. Es uno de los más destacados representantes del neorromanticismo alemán. Obras: El necio y la muerte (1893) y El gran teatro del mundo de Salzburgo (1922). * * * (1 feb. 1874, Viena, Austria–15 jul.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • HOFMANNSTHAL (H. von) — La littérature autrichienne affirme assez tard son caractère original parmi les diverses littératures de langue allemande. Elle ne l’atteint qu’au XIXe siècle avec Franz Grillparzer et Nikolaus Lenau. À leur suite viennent des romanciers surtout… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal — en 1893 Activités écrivain Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hugo Von Hofmannsthal — en 1893. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, né le 1er février 1874 à Vienne et mort le 15 juillet 1929 à Rodaun (Autriche), est un écrivain autrichien et un des fondateurs du Fe …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hugo von Hofmannstahl — Hugo von Hofmannsthal Hugo von Hofmannsthal en 1893. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, né le 1er février 1874 à Vienne et mort le 15 juillet 1929 à Rodaun (Autriche), est un écrivain autrichien et un des fondateurs du Fe …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hugo von hofmannsthal — en 1893. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, né le 1er février 1874 à Vienne et mort le 15 juillet 1929 à Rodaun (Autriche), est un écrivain autrichien et un des fondateurs du Fe …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”