Brahm, Otto

Brahm, Otto

(ô`tō bräm), 1856–1912, German theatrical director, manager and critic. Inspired by the work of Antoine in Paris, he founded a theater, the Freie Bühne, in Berlin in 1889. There he devoted his efforts to eliminating from the German stage old-fashioned techniques by employing the theories and methods of the naturalists. In 1894 he became director of the larger Deutsches TheaterDeutsches Theater
, German private theater organization founded in 1883. Under its first director, Adolph L'Arronge, the Deutsches merged with the Freie Bühne (Otto Brahm, director) and in 1884 built its own house in Berlin.
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 and the acknowledged leader of the modern German theater movement.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brahm, Otto


(pseudonym of Otto Abrahamsohn). Born Feb. 5, 1856, in Hamburg; died Nov. 28, 1912, in Berlin. German theater figure, critic, and director.

Brahm studied literature and philosophy at universities in Berlin, Heidelberg, and other cities. He began working as a drama critic in the 1880’s. Unsatisfied with the state of contemporary theatrical art, Brahm approached naturalism in his demand for naturalness and simplicity. As a director, however, in contrast to the naturalists, he strove to convert the stage into a mirror and a chronicle of the epoch and advocated the reflection of contemporary social problems on the stage. He was an active champion of H. Ibsen’s plays.

In 1889, Brahm headed the literary and theatrical society Freie Bühne (Free Stage), which was organized on the initiative of a group of journalists and critics. The society called for the establishment of a theater free from commercial interests, which would introduce the viewer to contemporary, routine-free artistic drama. This theater opened in 1889 with Ibsen’s play Ghosts, followed by the production of G. Hauptmann’s Before Sunrise (1889), as well as plays by A. Holz, J. Schlaf, E. Zola, A. Becque, and L. N. Tolstoy (The Power of Darkness).

From 1894 to 1904, Brahm directed the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, in which he gathered such outstanding actors as E. Reicher, O. Sauer, E. Lehmann, and M. Reinhardt, and succeeded in assembling a theatrical ensemble. The theater’s performance of Hauptmann’s play Weavers (1894) was an important event in theater history. After 1904, Brahm directed the Lessing Theater, where he staged Hauptmann’s and Ibsen’s plays.

Brahm’s productions combined lively, accurate detail in the action’s setting with profound development of psychological scenes. His psychological realism was further developed in the work of German 20th century actors and directors.


Kritische Schriften über Drama und Theater, vols. 1–2. Edited by P. Schlenther. Berlin, 1913–15.
Theater, Dramatiker, Schauspieler. Berlin, 1961.


Gvozdev, A. Zapadno-evropeiskii teatr na rubezhe XIX-XX stoletii: Ocherki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Ignatov, S. Istoriia zapadno-evropeiskogo teatra novogo vremeni. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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