Otto Brahm

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
So too do several authors provide essays on such theatre innovators and directors as Otto Brahm (born Abrahamsohn) and Max Reinhardt (born Goldmann) and their vital contribution to German theatre.
From the turn of the century Kessler attempted to bring about his own aesthetic revolution from his home in Weimar, where he acted for a while as director of the Archducal Museum of Arts and Crafts, and in this process repeatedly effected introductions between Craig and leading theatre figures of the day, amongst them Otto Brahm, Max Reinhardt, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Diaghilev.
Freie Buhne ("Free Stage") Independent theater founded by the critic and director Otto Brahm in 1889 in Berlin for the purpose of staging new, naturalistic plays.