Max Reinhardt
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, NY, United States
Resting placeWestchester Hills Cemetery
Occupation(s)Theatre director, theatrical producer, actor
Spouse(s)Else Heims (1910–1935; divorced; 2 children)
Helene Thimig (1935–1943; his death)
ChildrenWolfgang Reinhardt
Gottfried Reinhardt

Max Reinhardt (German: [maks ˈʁaɪnhaʁt]; born Maximilian Goldmann; 9 September 1873 – 30 October 1943) was an Austrian-born theatre and film director, intendant, and theatrical producer. With his radically innovative and avante garde stage productions, Reinhardt is regarded as one of the most prominent stage directors of the early 20th century.

For example, Reinhardt's 1917 stage premiere of Reinhard Sorge's Kleist Prize-winning stage play Der Bettler almost single-handedly gave birth to Expressionism in the theatre and ultimately in motion pictures as well. In 1920, Reinhardt established the Salzburg Festival by directing an open air production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's acclaimed adaptation of the Everyman Medieval mystery play in the square before the Cathedral with the Alps as a background. This remains an annual custom at the Salzburg Festival to this day.

Toby Cole and Helen Krich Chinoy have dubbed Reinhardt, "one of the most picturesque actor-directors of modern times", and write that his eventual arrival in the United States as a refugee from the imminent Nazi takeover of Austria followed a long and distinguished career, "inspired by the example of social participation in the ancient Greek and Medieval theatres", of seeking, "to bridge the separation between actors and audiences".[1]

In 1935, Reinhardt directed his first and only motion picture in the United States through Warner Brothers, the Expressionist film adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring Mickey Rooney, Olivia De Havilland, and James Cagney. The film was banned by the Ministry of Propaganda in an infamous example of censorship in Nazi Germany. This was due not only to Joseph Goebbels' belief that Expressionism was degenerate art, but even more so due to the Jewish ancestry of director Max Reinhardt, Classical music composer Felix Mendelsohn, and soundtrack arranger Erich Wolfgang Korngold; whose work was already banned by Goebbels as allegedly degenerate music.[2]

Reinhardt also founded the highly influential drama schools Hochschule für Schauspielkunst "Ernst Busch" in Berlin, Max Reinhardt Seminar, the Max Reinhardt Workshop (Sunset Boulevard),[3] and the Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop. Even though Reinhardt did not live long enough to witness the end of Nazism in 1945, his formerly expropriated estate at Schloss Leopoldskron near Salzburg was restored to his widow and his legacy continues to be celebrated and honoured in the modern Germanosphere for his many radically innovative contributions to the performing arts.

Early life

Bust in front of the Deutsches Theater Berlin

Reinhardt was born Maximilian Goldmann in the spa town of Baden bei Wien, the son of Rachel Lea Rosi "Rosa" Goldmann and her husband Wilhelm Goldmann, a merchant from Stupava, Slovakia. 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.[4] One year later, Reinhardt relocated to Germany, joining the Deutsches Theater ensemble under director Otto Brahm in Berlin.[5]

Reinhardt was one of the contributors of the Swedish avant-garde theatre magazine Thalia between 1910 and 1913.[6] In 1918 Reinhardt purchased Schloss Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg.[7]

In October 1922 Reinhardt was in the audience when The Dybbuk was staged by the Vilna Troupe at the Roland Theater in Vienna. Reinhardt rushed backstage and congratulated the actors. At the time he was already recognized in Austria as distinguished theater director.[8] A couple of months before his endorsement for The Dybbuk, Reinhardt had again successfully staged Jedermann (Everyman) for the Salzburg Festival.[9]


Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews
Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews on location in Salzburg, 1964

Reinhardt 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)[10] 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[11] Theater in Berlin. In 1911, he premiered with Karl Vollmöller's The Miracle in Olympia, London, gaining an international reputation.[12]

In 1910, Siegfried Jacobsohn wrote his book entitled Max Reinhardt. In 1914, he was persuaded 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.

On 23 December 1917, Reinhardt presided over the world premiere of Reinhard Sorge's Kleist Prize-winning stage play Der Bettler, which had long been, "a succès de scandale, an innovation, changing the course of theatrical history with its revolutionary staging techniques."[13]

According to Michael Paterson, "The genius of the 20-year old Sorge already showed the possibilities of abstract staging, and Reinhardt in 1917, simply by following Sorge's stage directions, was to become the first director to present a play in wholly Expressionist style."[14]

According to Michael Paterson, "The play opens with an ingenious inversion: the Poet and Friend converse in front of a closed curtain, behind which voices can be heard. It appears that we, the audience, are backstage and the voices are those of the imagined audience out front. It is a simple, but disorienting trick of stagecraft, whose imaginative spatial reversal is self-consciously theatrical. So the audience is alerted to the fact that they are about to see a play and not a 'slice of life.'"[15]

According to Walter H. Sokel, "The lighting apparatus behaves like the mind. It drowns in darkness what it wishes to forget and bathes in light what it wishes to recall. Thus the entire stage becomes a universe of [the] mind, and the individual scenes are not replicas of three-densional physical reality, but visualizes stages of thought."[16][17]

Reinhardt's production of the play, which he had meticulously planned ever since he had purchased the rights from Sorge in 1913, proved enormously popular and productions immediately began to be staged in other German cities, such as Cologne. After the 1918 Armistice, newspapers in the German language in the United States also published articles highly praising Reinhardt's production of the play, which singlehandedly gave birth to Expressionism in the theatre.[18]

After the November Revolution of 1918, Reinhardt re-opened the Großes Schauspielhaus (after World War II renamed into Friedrichstadtpalast) in 1919, following its expressionist conversion by Hans Poelzig.[19][20] 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,[10] always directing the annual production of Hoffmansthal's acclaimed adaptation of the Medieval Dutch morality play Everyman, in which the Christian God sends Death to summon an archetype of the Human Race to Judgment Day. 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]

From the 1910s to the early 1930s, one of Reinhardt's most frequent collaborators was the Swedish-born American composer and conductor Einar Nilson [sv], whom he employed as the music department head of his theaters; during international trips, Nilson would also serve as an advance man for Reinhardt, traveling ahead to the next performance location to audition singers and actors. Reinhardt, moreover, often would utilize existing music by famous composers (for example, Mozart and Mendelssohn) for his productions, which Nilson would arrange to meet Reinhardt's needs. Nilson also composed original music, such as the incidental music for Hofmannsthal's Jedermann.[21]

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.[22] The Nazis banned[2] 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. In 1940, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[23] At that time, he was married to his second wife, actress Helene Thimig, daughter of actor Hugo Thimig.[24]

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.
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.[25]

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, Max Reinhardt Seminar, the Max Reinhardt Workshop (Sunset Boulevard),[3] and the Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop.

Max Reinhardt Seminar

Max Reinhardt Seminar trained Kurt Kasznar.[26]

The Continental Players

Main article: The Continental Players

Max Reinhardt Workshop

Max Reinhardt's Workshop[27][28][29] of Stage, Screen, and Radio (Sunset Boulevard) (Reinhardt School of the Theatre[citation needed]) trained Ann Savage.[30][31] Joan Barry, and Nanette Fabray (Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood).[32]

Reinhardt won the school, Ben Bard Drama (a playhouse on Wilshire Boulevard), from Ben Bard in a poker game.[33] Reinhardt opened the Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard.[12] Several notable stars of the day received classical theater training, among them actress Nanette Fabray. Many alumni of these schools made their careers in film. Edward G. Kuster, for two years, was the personal assistant to Reinhardt, taught classes and directed plays. In 1938, Walden Philip Boyle, later, a founding faculty of the Department of Theater Arts at UCLA, worked with the Max Reinhardt Theatre Academy in Hollywood.[34] Students include Alan Ladd, Jack Carson, Robert Ryan, Gower Champion, Shirley Temple, Angie Dickinson, Frank Bonner, Anthony James, Greg Mullavey, Charlene Tilton, and Cliff Robertson In 1943, Reinhardt departed.[33] It later was known as Geller Theatre Workshop, Hollywood School of Acting, and Theatre of Arts Hollywood Acting School.[33]

In 2000, the school, Theatre of Arts, was associated with Campus Hollywood,[35] which included, Musicians Institute, and Los Angeles College of Music. In 2009, James Warwick was appointed President.

Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop

Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop trained Mala Powers.[36][37][38]

Death and legacy

The mausoleum of Max Reinhardt in Westchester Hills Cemetery

Reinhardt died of a stroke[39][40] 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.[41] 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 great-granddaughter Jelena Ulrike Reinhardt was appointed as researcher at the University of Perugia in German literature.


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.[42]

Work on Broadway


Further reading

See also


  1. ^ Edited by Toby Cole and Helen Krich Chinoy (1970), Actors on Acting: The Theories, Techniques, and Practices of the World's Great Actors, Told in Their Own Words, Crown Publishers. Page 294.
  2. ^ a b "Max Reinhardt - music, theatre, circus". Forbidden Music. 18 August 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Max Reinhardt". Britannica .com. 5 September 2023. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  4. ^ "Max Reinhardt". Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Deutsches Theater". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  6. ^ Claes-Göran Holmberg (2012). "Flamman". In Hubert van den Berg; et al. (eds.). A Cultural History of the Avant-Garde in the Nordic Countries 1900-1925. Amsterdam; New York: Rodopi. p. 380. doi:10.1163/9789401208918_025. ISBN 9789042036208.
  7. ^ "Max Reinhardt's story at the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron".
  8. ^ Lisa Silverman (2012). Becoming Austrians: Jews and Culture Between the World Wars. Oxford University Press. p. 141. ISBN 9780199794881.
  9. ^ Lisa Silverman (2012). Becoming Austrians: Jews and Culture Between the World Wars. Oxford University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780199794881.
  10. ^ a b "Max Reinhardt: The man who 'invented' modern theatre direction". Royal Opera House. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Max Reinhardt (Goldmann)". Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  12. ^ a b "Max Reinhardt". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  13. ^ Tim Cross, "The Lost Voices of World War I: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets, and Playwrights," University of Iowa Press, 1989. Page 144.
  14. ^ "The Lost Voices of World War I," page 145.
  15. ^ Tim Cross, "The Lost Voices of World War I: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets, and Playwrights," University of Iowa Press, 1989. Pages 144-145.
  16. ^ Tim Cross, "The Lost Voices of World War I: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets, and Playwrights," University of Iowa Press, 1989. Page 145.
  17. ^ Walter H. Sokel (1959), The Writer in Extremis, Stanford University Press.
  18. ^ REINHARD SORGE’S THE BEGGAR (DER BETTLER), World War One: Plays, Playwrights & Productions, July 9, 2019.
  19. ^ Hans Poelzig: Construction of the Great Berlin Schauspielhaus. Commemorate the opening
  20. ^ 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))
  21. ^ Eija Kurki (2020). "Einar Nilson: Composer of the first Jedermann music". SibeliusOne.
  22. ^ "Once upon a time, a theatrical 'Dream' came true at the Hollywood Bowl". Los Angeles Times. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  23. ^ "Objects - US naturalisation certificate for Max Reinhardt (1940)". Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  24. ^ "Helene Thimig". Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press.
  25. ^ Eyman, Scott (30 November 2000). Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise. The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0801865589.
  26. ^ Fraser, C. Gerald (8 August 1979). "Kurt Kasznar dies; Broadway actor". The New York Times. p. B6. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  27. ^ "Max Reinhardt". Stadtmuseum Berlin. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  28. ^ Sack, Harald (11 August 2020). "Max Reinhardt - From Bourgeois Theatre to Metropolitan Culture". SciHi Blog. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  29. ^ Giovacchini, Saverio (2001). Hollywood Modernism: Film and Politics in the Age of the New Deal. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-56639-863-3. OCLC 924379553. ISBN 1566398622, 9781566398626, 1566398630
    "The Continental Players," p. 110
    "Contemporary Theater," p. 110
    "Modern Theater," p. 110
    "Hollywood Theater Alliance," p. 110
  30. ^ "Ann Savage" (Obituary) in The Daily Telegraph, January 2, 2009 Archived November 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Adamson, Kent, "Ann Savage: A Friend to Hollywood Heritage". Accessed January 7, 2009 Archived February 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Max Reinhardt (1873-1943)". Mahler Foundation. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  33. ^ a b c "History of Theatre of Arts Acting College". THEATRE OF ARTS. Hollywood CA. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  34. ^ "Philip Walden Boyle". Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  35. ^ "CAMPUS HOLLYWOOD". campus hollywood. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  36. ^ "Mala Powers". Hollywood Walk of Fame. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  37. ^ "WORD comes from Hollywood". Mansfield News Journal. Mansfield, Ohio: 22 August 1942. Retrieved 26 June 2023. WORD comes from Hollywood concerning Marilyn Joyce Teeter, who left Mansfield recently to study theater. At the Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop she played the lead. Sadie, in "The Moppet." Marilyn Joyce has appeared at the Knickerbocker hotel, doing her Spanish dance, and besides making other appearances has several on schedule. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. LeRoy S. Teeter, 60 Prospect street.
  38. ^ "Mala Powers". Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  39. ^ "Charleston Gazette Newspaper Archives, Nov 1, 1943, p. 1". 1 November 1943. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  40. ^ "Max Reindardt, Dies". The Evening Review. 1 November 1943. p. 7. Retrieved 28 November 2019 – via
  41. ^ "Binghamton University - Libraries: Special Collections: Research and Collections: Max Reinhardt Archives & Library".
  42. ^ "Denkzeichen". Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.