Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal was an austriannovelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist. He was the son of an upper-class Austrian mother, Anna Maria Josefa Fohleutner (1852–1904), and an Austrian–Italian bank manager, Hugo August Peter Hofmann, Edler von Hofmannsthal (1841–1915).
He began to write poems and plays from an early age. He met the German poet Stefan Georgeat the age of seventeen and had several poems published in George's journal, Blätter für die Kunst. He studied law and later philology in Vienna but decided to devote himself to writing upon graduating in 1901. Along with Peter Altenberg and Arthur Schnitzler, he was a member of the avant garde group Young Vienna (Jung Wien).
In 1900, Hofmannsthal met the composer Richard Strauss for the first time. He later wrote libretti for several of his operas, including Elektra (1909), Der Rosenkavalier (1911) with Harry von Kessler, Ariadne auf Naxos (1912, rev. 1916), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), Die ägyptische Helena (1927), and Arabella (1933).
In 1911 he adapted the 15th century English morality play Jedermann, andJean Sibelius (amongst others) wrote incidental music for it. The play later became a staple at the Salzburg Festival.
During the First World War Hofmannsthal held a government post. He wrote speeches and articles supporting the war effort, and emphasizing the cultural tradition of Austria-Hungary. The end of the war spelled the end of the old monarchy in Austria; this was a blow from which the patriotic and conservative-minded Hofmannsthal never fully recovered.
Nevertheless the years after the war were very productive ones for Hofmannsthal; he continued with his earlier literary projects, almost without a break. In 1920, Hofmannsthal, along with Max Reinhardt, founded the Salzburg Festival. His later plays revealed a growing interest in religious, particularly Roman Catholic, themes. Among his writings was a screenplay for a film version of Der Rosenkavalier (1925) directed by Robert Wiene.
In 1901, he married Gertrud "Gerty" Schlesinger, the daughter of a Viennese banker. Gerty, who was Jewish, converted to Christianity before their marriage. They settled in Rodaun, not far from Vienna, and had three children, Christiane, Franz, and Raimund.
On July 13, 1929, his son Franz committed suicide. Two days later, shortly before attending Franz's funeral, Hugo himself died of a stroke at Rodaun (now part of Liesing). He was buried wearing the habit of a Franciscan tertiary, as he had requested.