Max Reinhardt

Last updated

Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt.jpg
Reinhardt in 1911, photograph by Nicola Perscheid
Maximilian Goldmann

(1873-09-09)9 September 1873
Baden, Austria-Hungary
(present-day Baden, Austria)
Died30 October 1943(1943-10-30) (aged 70)
New York City, United States
Resting place Westchester Hills Cemetery
Occupation Theatre director, theatrical producer, actor
Spouse(s)Else Heims (19101935; divorced; 2 children)
Helene Thimig (1935–1943; his death)
Children Wolfgang Reinhardt
Gottfried Reinhardt

Max Reinhardt (born Maximilian Goldmann; 9 September 1873 – 30 October 1943) was an Austrian-born theatre and film director, intendant, and theatrical producer. With his innovative stage productions, he is regarded as one of the most prominent directors of German-language theatre in the early 20th century. In 1920, he established the Salzburg Festival with the performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Jedermann .


Life and career

Bust in front of the Deutsches Theater Berlin Buste Schumannstr 13a (Mitte) Max Reinhardt.jpg
Bust in front of the Deutsches Theater Berlin

Reinhardt was born Maximilian Goldmann in the spa town of Baden near Vienna, the son of Wilhelm Goldmann (1846–1911), a Jewish merchant from Stupava, Hungary, and his wife Rachel Lea Rosi "Rosa" Goldmann (née Wengraf; 1851–1924). Having finished school, he began an apprenticeship at a bank, but already took acting lessons. In 1890, he gave his debut on a private stage in Vienna with the stage name Max Reinhardt (possibly after the protagonist Reinhard Werner in Theodor Storm's novella Immensee ). In 1893 he performed at the re-opened Salzburg City Theatre. [1] One year later, Reinhardt relocated to Germany, joining the Deutsches Theater ensemble under director Otto Brahm in Berlin. [2]

In 1918 Reinhardt purchased Schloss Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg, which had fallen into disrepair. [3] While living in it for nearly 20 years, he painstakingly restored the castle; however he fled due to the Nazis' increasing anti-Semitic aggressions. The castle was seized following Germany's Anschluss annexation of Austria in 1938. After the war, the castle was restored to Reinhardt's heirs, and subsequently the home and grounds became famous as the filming site for the early scenes of the Von Trapp family gardens in the movie The Sound of Music .

Reinhardt theatres

In 1901, Reinhardt together with Friedrich Kayßler and several other theatre colleagues founded the Schall und Rauch (Sound and Smoke) Kabarett stage in Berlin. Re-opened as Kleines Theater (Little Theatre) [4] it was the first of numerous stages where Reinhardt worked as a director until the beginning of Nazi rule in 1933. From 1903 to 1905, he managed the Neues Theater (present-day Theater am Schiffbauerdamm) and in 1906 acquired the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 1911, he premiered with Karl Vollmöller's The Miracle in Olympia, London, gaining an international reputation. [5]

In 1910, Siegfried Jacobsohn wrote his book entitled Max Reinhardt. In 1914, he was persuaded[ by whom? ] to sign the Manifesto of the Ninety-Three, defending the German invasion of Belgium. He was signatory 66; he later expressed regret at signing.[ citation needed ]

From 1915 to 1918, Reinhardt also worked as director of the Volksbühne theatre and after World War I re-opened the Großes Schauspielhaus (after World War II renamed into Friedrichstadtpalast) in 1919, following its expressionist conversion by Hans Poelzig. [6] [7] By 1930, he ran eleven stages in Berlin and, in addition, managed the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna from 1924 to 1933. In 1920, Reinhardt established the Salzburg Festival with Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, [4] notably directing an annual production of the morality play Jedermann in which God sends Death to summon a representative of mankind for judgment. In the United States, he successfully directed The Miracle in 1924, and a popular stage version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1927.[ citation needed ]

Reinhardt followed that success by directing a film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1935 using a mostly different cast, that included James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Joe E. Brown and Olivia de Havilland, amongst others. Mickey Rooney and Olivia de Havilland had also appeared in Reinhardt's 1934 stage production, which was staged at the Hollywood Bowl. The Nazis banned the film because of the Jewish ancestry of both Reinhardt and Felix Mendelssohn, whose music (arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold) was used throughout the film.

After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-governed Germany in 1938, he emigrated first to Britain, then to the United States. Reinhardt opened the Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard. [5] Several notable stars of the day received classical theater training, among them actress Nanette Fabray. In 1940, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. At that time, he was married to his second wife, actress Helene Thimig, daughter of actor Hugo Thimig. [8]

By employing powerful staging techniques, and integrating stage design, language, music and choreography, Reinhardt introduced new dimensions into German theatre. The Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, which is arguably the most important German-language acting school, was installed implementing his ideas.

Max Reinhardt and film

Max Reinhardt is filmed in his garden, 1930. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H0927-506, Berlin, Max Reinhardt.jpg
Max Reinhardt is filmed in his garden, 1930.
Max Reinhardt signing a contract with the US film producer Curtis Melnitz in Berlin, 1930 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09723, Max Reinhardt unterzeichnet Tonfilmvertrag.jpg
Max Reinhardt signing a contract with the US film producer Curtis Melnitz in Berlin, 1930

Reinhardt took a greater interest in film than most of his contemporaries in the theater world. He made films as a director and from time to time also as a producer. His first staging was the film Sumurûn in 1910. After that, Reinhardt founded his own film company. He sold the film rights for the film adaptation of the play Das Mirakel (The Miracle) to Joseph Menchen, whose full-colour 1912 film of The Miracle gained world-wide success. Controversies around the staging of Das Mirakel, which was shown in the Vienna Rotunde in 1912, led to Reinhardt's retreat from the project. The author of the play, Reinhardt's friend and confidant Karl Gustav Vollmoeller, had French director Michel Carré finish the shooting.

Reinhardt made two films, Die Insel der Seligen (Isle of the Blessed) and Eine venezianische Nacht (Venetian Nights), under a four-picture contract for the German film producer Paul Davidson. Released in 1913 and 1914, respectively, both films received negative reviews from the press and public. The other two films called for in the contract were never made. [9]

Both films demanded much of cameraman Karl Freund because of Reinhardt's special shooting needs, such as filming a lagoon in moonlight. Isle of the Blessed attracted attention due to its erotic nature. Its ancient mythical setting included sea gods, nymphs, and fauns, and the actors appeared naked. However, the film also fit in with the strict customs of the late German and Austrian empires. The actors had to live up to the demands of double roles. Wilhelm Diegelmann and Willy Prager played the bourgeois fathers as well as the sea gods, Ernst Matray  [ de ] a bachelor and a faun, Leopoldine Konstantin the Circe. The shooting for Eine venezianische Nacht by Karl Gustav Vollmoeller took place in Venice. Maria Carmi played the bride, Alfred Abel the young stranger, and Ernst Matray Anselmus and Pipistrello. The shooting was disturbed by a fanatic who incited the attendant Venetians against the German-speaking staff.

In 1935, Reinhardt directed his first film in the US, A Midsummer Night's Dream . He founded the drama schools Hochschule für Schauspielkunst "Ernst Busch" in Berlin and the Max Reinhardt Seminar. Many alumni of these schools made their careers in film.

Death and legacy

Reinhardt died of a stroke [10] [11] in New York City in 1943 and is interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York. He was 70 years old. His papers and literary estate are housed at Binghamton University (SUNY), in the Max Reinhardt Archives and Library. [12] His sons by first wife Else Heims (m. 1910–1935), Wolfgang and Gottfried Reinhardt, were well-regarded film producers. One of his grandsons (by adoption), Stephen Reinhardt, was a labor lawyer who served notably on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from his appointment by Jimmy Carter in 1980 until his death in 2018. Another grandson, Michael Reinhardt, is a successful fashion photographer. In 2015 his granddaughter Jelena Ulrike Reinhardt was appointed as researcher at the University of Perugia in German literature.

The mausoleum of Max Reinhardt in Westchester Hills Cemetery Max Reinhardt 800.jpg
The mausoleum of Max Reinhardt in Westchester Hills Cemetery


On 18 November 2015, the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin inaugurated a memorial at Friedrichstraße 107 dedicated to the theatre's founders, Max Reinhardt, Hans Poelzig and Erik Charell. [13]

Work on Broadway


See also

Related Research Articles

Salzburg Festival Annual music and drama festival held in Salzburg, Austria

The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer in the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One highlight is the annual performance of the play Jedermann (Everyman) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Paula Wessely

Paula Anna Maria Wessely was an Austrian theatre and film actress. Die Wessely, as she was affectionately called by her admirers and fans, was Austria's foremost popular postwar actress.

Attila Hörbiger Austrian actor

Attila Hörbiger was an Austrian stage and movie actor.

Hans Poelzig

Hans Poelzig was a German architect, painter and set designer.

<i>Turandot</i> (Gozzi)

Turandot (1762) is a commedia dell'arte play by Count Carlo Gozzi after a supposedly Persian story from the collection Les Mille et un jours (1710–1712) by François Pétis de la Croix. Gozzi's Turandot was first performed at the Teatro San Samuele, Venice, on 22 January 1762.

Schloss Leopoldskron

Schloss Leopoldskron is a rococo palace and a national historic monument in Leopoldskron-Moos, a southern district of the city of Salzburg, Austria. The palace, and its surrounding seven hectare park, is located on the lake Leopoldskroner Weiher. The palace has been home to Salzburg Global Seminar since 1947. In 2014, the palace and the neighboring Meierhof building were opened as a privately owned hotel, Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron.

Großes Schauspielhaus

The Großes Schauspielhaus was a theatre in Berlin, Germany, often described as an example of expressionist architecture, designed by Hans Poelzig for theatre impresario Max Reinhardt. The structure was originally a market built by architect Friedrich Hitzig, and it retained its external, gabled form. It then became the Zirkus Schumann, a circus arena. It was renovated by Poelzig and reopened in 1919, contained seating for 3500 people. Max Reinhardt wanted to attract a working-class audience. The large size allowed for people who could pay top prices for the best seats to support low-cost seats, in the back of the theater.

Gottfried Reinhardt was an Austrian-born American film director and producer.

Werner Krauss German actor

Werner Johannes Krauss was a German stage and film actor. Krauss dominated the German stage of the early 20th century. However, his participation in the antisemitic propaganda film Jud Süß and his collaboration with the Nazis made him a controversial figure.

Tilly Losch Austrian dancer

Ottilie Ethel Leopoldine Herbert, Countess of Carnarvon, known professionally as Tilly Losch, was an Austrian dancer, choreographer, actress, and painter who lived and worked for most of her life in the United States and United Kingdom.

<i>Jedermann</i> (play) 1911 play by Hugo von Hofmannsthal based on medieval mystery plays

Jedermann. Das Spiel vom Sterben des reichen Mannes is a play by the Austrian playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is based on several medieval mystery plays, including the late 15th-century English morality play Everyman. It was first performed on 1 December 1911 in Berlin, directed by Max Reinhardt at the Circus Schumann. Since 1920, it has been performed regularly at the Salzburg Festival.

Hans Emil Thimig, pseudonym: Hans Werner was an Austrian actor, film director, and stage director.

Erik Charell, born as Erich Karl Löwenberg, was a German theatre and film director, dancer and actor. He is best known as the creator of musical revues and operettas, such as The White Horse Inn and The Congress Dances.

<i>Afterlife</i> (play)

Afterlife is a 2008 play by Michael Frayn. It tells the life and career of Austrian theatrical director and actor Max Reinhardt, from the revival of the Salzburg Festival in 1920, which he helped to re-establish, until his death in New York in 1943. It draws from Hugo von Hofmannsthal's 1911 play Jedermann, which Reinhardt directed at the Salzburg Festival for many years following its revival in 1920.

Hugo Thimig Austrian actor and theatre director

Hugo August Thimig, although born in Germany, spent his working life in Austria as an actor, director, and director of the Burgtheater in Vienna.

Hermann Thimig Austrian actor

Hermann Thimig was an Austrian stage and film actor. He appeared in 102 films between 1916 and 1967.


The Friedrichstadt-Palast, also shortened to Palast Berlin, is a revue in the Berlin district of Mitte. The term Friedrichstadt-Palast designates both the building itself, and the revue theater as a body with his ensemble. The present building is distinct from its predecessor, the Old Friedrichstadt-Palast, and therefore now also called the New Friedrichstadt-Palast.

Otto Tausig

Otto Tausig was an Austrian writer, director and actor. Although he usually appeared in German language films, he also played in English language films such as Love Comes Lately, and in French language films such as La Reine Margot and Place Vendôme.

Fritz Richard was an Austrian actor and theatre director.

Ernst Stern was a Romanian-German scenic designer who, through his collaborations with most of the prominent German directors of the early 20th century, helped define the aesthetic of expressionism in both the theatre and the cinema.


  1. "Max Reinhardt".
  2. "Deutsches Theater". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. "Max Reinhardt's story at the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron".
  4. 1 2 "Max Reinhardt: The man who 'invented' modern theatre direction". Royal Opera House. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  5. 1 2 "Max Reinhardt". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  6. Hans Poelzig: Construction of the Great Berlin Schauspielhaus. Commemorate the opening
  7. Heike Hambrock: "Marlene Moeschke – staff member?, rediscovered the work of the sculptor and architect provides new information about Hans Poelzig Large Schauspielhaus in Berlin." in: Critical reports. Marburg 29.2001,3,[ clarification needed ] pp. 37-53 ((ISSN | 0340–7403))
  8. "Helene Thimig". Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press.
  9. Eyman, Scott (30 November 2000). Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise . The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp.  37–38. ISBN   978-0801865589.
  10. "Charleston Gazette Newspaper Archives, Nov 1, 1943, p. 1". 1 November 1943. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  11. "Max Reindardt, Dies". The Evening Review. 1 November 1943. p. 7. Retrieved 28 November 2019 via
  12. "Binghamton University - Libraries: Special Collections: Research and Collections: Max Reinhardt Archives & Library".
  13. "Denkzeichen". Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Max Reinhardt at Wikimedia Commons