Ödön von Horváth

Edmund Josef von Horváth (9 December 1901 Sušak, Rijeka, then in Austria–Hungary, now in Croatia – 1 June 1938 Paris) was a German-writing Austro-Hungarian-born playwright and novelist. He preferred the Hungarian version of his first name and published as Ödön von Horváth.

Ödön von Horváth
Ödön von Horváth
Von Horváth in 1919
Edmund Josef von Horváth

9 December 1901
Died1 June 1938 (aged 36)
Paris, France
Occupationplaywright and novelist
Horvath Signature

Early life and education

Horváth was the oldest son of an Austro-Hungarian diplomat of Hungarian origin from Slavonia, Edmund (Ödön) Josef Horvát, and Maria Lulu Hermine (Prehnal) Horvát, who was from an Austro-Hungarian military family.

From 1908 he attended elementary school in Budapest and later the Rákóczianum, where he was educated in Hungarian. In 1909, his father was ennobled (indicated in German by the preposition "von", and in Hungarian by an additional "h" at the end of the last name) and assigned to Munich, but Ödön and his mother did not accompany him. The young Horváth went to high school in Bratislava and Vienna, where he was taught German – this not being his native tongue – beginning in 1913, and where he also earned his Matura (high school diploma), before finally re-joining his parents at Murnau, and, from 1919, studying at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

Later life and death

He started writing as a student, from 1920. Quitting university without a degree in early 1922, he moved to Berlin. Later, he lived in Salzburg and Murnau am Staffelsee in Upper Bavaria. In 1931, he was awarded, along with Erik Reger, the Kleist Prize. In 1933, at the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany, he relocated to Vienna.

Following Austria's Anschluss with Germany in 1938, Horváth emigrated to Paris.

Ödön von Horváth was hit by a falling branch from a tree and killed during a thunderstorm on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, opposite the Théâtre Marigny, in June 1938. Ironically, only a few days earlier, von Horváth had said to a friend: "I am not so afraid of the Nazis … There are worse things one can be afraid of, namely things one is afraid of without knowing why. For instance, I am afraid of streets. Roads can be hostile to one, can destroy one. Streets scare me." And a few years earlier, von Horváth had written poetry about lightning: "Yes, thunder, that it can do. And bolt and storm. Terror and destruction."[1][2]

Ödön von Horváth was buried in Saint-Ouen cemetery in northern Paris. In 1988, on the 50th anniversary of his death, his remains were transferred to Vienna and reinterred at the Heiligenstädter Friedhof.

Ödön von Horváth's family tombstone in Vienna

Important topics in Horváth's works were popular culture, politics and history. He especially tried to warn of the dawn of fascism and its dangers. Among Horváth's most enduringly popular works, Jugend ohne Gott (Youth Without God) describes the youth in Nazi Germany from a disgruntled teacher's point of view, who, himself at first an opportunist, is helpless against the racist and militaristic Nazi propaganda that his pupils are subjected to and that de-humanizes them. At last, the teacher loses his job but gains his identity.

The title of his novel Ein Kind unserer Zeit (A Child of Our Time) was used in English by Michael Tippett for his oratorio (1939–1941), composed during World War II.



  • Das Buch der Tänze, 1920
  • Mord in der Mohrengasse, 1923
  • Zur schönen Aussicht, 1926
  • Die Bergbahn, 1926, originally Revolte auf Côte 3018
  • Sladek der schwarze Reichswehrmann, 1929, originally Sladek oder Die schwarze Armee (Sladek in volume Plays One, translation by Penny Black, Oberon, 2000, ISBN 1-84002-133-0)
  • Rund um den Kongreß, 1929 (A Sexual Congress in volume Plays One, translation by Penny Black, Oberon, 2000, ISBN 1-84002-133-0)
  • Italienische Nacht, 1930 (Italian Night in volume Plays Two, Oberon, 2000, ISBN 1-84002-152-7)
  • Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Wood), 1931, winner of the Kleist Prize the same year; available as well in volume Plays Two, Oberon, 2000, ISBN 1-84002-152-7)
  • Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung, 1932 (Faith, Hope, and Charity in volume Four Plays, PAJ Publications, 1986, ISBN 1-55554-002-3)
  • Kasimir und Karoline, 1932 (Kasimir and Karoline in volume Four Plays, PAJ Publications, 1986, ISBN 1-55554-002-3)
  • Die Unbekannte aus der Seine, 1933
  • Hin und her, 1934
  • Don Juan kommt aus dem Krieg, 1936 (Don Juan Comes Back From the War, Faber & Faber, 1978, ISBN 0-571-11301-X)
  • Figaro läßt sich scheiden, 1936. Giselher Klebe wrote the libretto and composed his 1963 opera of the same name based on this work; Elena Langer's 2016 opera Figaro Gets a Divorce, to a libretto by David Pountney, is also largely based on the play. (Figaro Gets a Divorce in volume Four Plays, PAJ Publications, 1986, ISBN 1-55554-002-3)
  • Pompeji. Komödie eines Erdbebens, 1937
  • Ein Dorf ohne Männer, 1937
  • Himmelwärts, 1937
  • Der jüngste Tag, 1937 (Giselher Klebe composed his 1980 opera of the same name based on this work; Lore Klebe wrote the libretto) (Judgement Day in volume Four Plays, PAJ Publications, 1986, ISBN 1-55554-002-3)


  • Sechsunddreißig Stunden, 1929
  • Der ewige Spießer, 1930 (The Eternal Philistine, 2011)
  • Jugend ohne Gott, 1938 (The Age of the Fish, 1939)
  • Ein Kind unserer Zeit, 1938 (A Child of Our Time, 1939)

Other prose

  • Sportmärchen, 1924–1926
  • Interview, 1932
  • Gebrauchsanweisung, 1932


  • "Nothing conveys the feeling of infinity as much as stupidity does." (Motto of Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald)
  • "Eigentlich bin ich ganz anders, nur komme ich so selten dazu." "Actually I'm quite different. But I so rarely have time to show it." (From Zur schönen Aussicht)
  • Ödön von Horváth was once walking in the Bavarian Alps when he discovered the skeleton of a long dead man with his knapsack still intact. Von Horváth opened the knapsack and found a postcard reading "Having a wonderful time". Asked by friends what he did with it, von Horváth replied "I posted it".
  • "If you ask me what is my native country, I answer: I was born in Fiume, grew up in Belgrade, Budapest, Pressburg [Bratislava], Vienna and Munich, and I have a Hungarian passport, but I have no fatherland. I am a very typical mix of old Austria–Hungary: at once Magyar, Croatian, German and Czech; my country is Hungary; my mother tongue is German."

In popular culture

  • Christopher Hampton's play Tales from Hollywood (1984, adapted for television in 1992) portrays a fictional Horváth. He survives the falling branch and moves to the United States, where expatriate German authors such as Bertolt Brecht and Heinrich Mann write for the motion picture industry.
  • Danilo Kiš's short story, "The Man Without A Country", published in the 1994 collection "The Lute and The Scars" fictionalizes the death of von Horváth.
  • Lydia Davis' short story, "Ödön von Horváth Out Walking," published in the 2014 collection "Can't and Won't," concerns Horváth's encounter with the skeleton in the Alps.


  1. ^ Hildebrand D. Horvath. Rororo publishers. 1975. ISBN 3499502313.
  2. ^ Krischke K. Ödön von Horvath. Heyne publishers. 1985. ISBN 3453550714.


Balme, Christopher B., The Reformation of Comedy Genre Critique in the Comedies of Odon von Horvath University of Otago, Dunedin 1985 ISBN 0-9597650-2-6

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Christopher James Hampton, CBE, FRSL (born 26 January 1946) is a British playwright, screenwriter, translator and film director. He is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and the film version Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and also more recently for writing the nominated screenplay for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement.

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His solo concert Live Ambient has been presented at Poli Theatre (Athens) on 10 October 2015, at Art Theatre Karolos Koun (Frinichou 14, Plaka) on 21 April 2016 and at Fournos Theatre (Mavromichali 168, Athens) on 15 December 2017, on 19 and 26 October 2018 and on 7 and 8 January 2019.

Der Jüngste Tag

Der Jüngste Tag, op.82, (Judgment Day) is an opera in three acts composed by Giselher Klebe. His wife, Lore Klebe, wrote the libretto based on the play of the same name by Ödön von Horváth.

The opera premiered in 1980 in Mannheim, Germany.

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Figaro läßt sich scheiden

Figaro läßt sich scheiden, op.40, (Figaro Gets Divorced) is an opera in two acts by Giselher Klebe based on the comedy of the same name by Ödön von Horváth. Klebe also wrote the libretto for this work.

The work is a sequel to the Figaro plays of Pierre Beaumarchais. It follows the fortunes of some of the characters of The Marriage of Figaro during the period of the French Revolution. It premiered on 28 June 1963 at the Hamburg State Opera, when it was conducted by Leopold Ludwig. It was commissioned by Rolf Liebermann, then-director of the Staatsoper and also a composer.Another opera using elements of the von Horváth play is Figaro Gets a Divorce by Elena Langer, (libretto by David Pountney), premiered by Welsh National Opera in 2016.

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In 1986, after his alternative civil service, he became an assistant director at the State Theatre in Salzburg from where he moved to the Slovenian National Theatre in Ljubljana in the same role.

Since 1990, he has been working freelance in Slovenia, Austria, Italy and Germany. Together with Austrian set designer Martin Zehetgruber and dramaturge Sylvia Brandl, he founded the independent group ’’my friend martin’’. They produced various plays for international festivals, including Franz Falsch F Falsch Dein Falsch Nichts Mehr Stille Tiefer Wald based on works by Franz Kafka.

In the 1993/1994 season he became a resident director at the Staatstheater in Stuttgart, Germany. He received the Gertrud Eysoldt Prize for young directors for his version of Intrigue and Love by Friedrich Schiller which he had directed earlier that year at Stadttheater Klagenfurt in Austria, and which had produced a major scandal with audiences leaving the theatre within the first few minutes.In 1996 he debuted as an opera director in Stuttgart with King Arthur by Henry Purcell and John Dryden. Since then he has directed operas in the opera houses of Stuttgart, Verona, Zurich, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam and at the Salzburg Festival. Towards the end of his time as resident director in Stuttgart he also worked at the Burgtheater in Vienna and at Thalia Theater in Hamburg.

In 1999 ,he was invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen festival with his Hamburg production of Tales from the Vienna Woods by Ödön von Horváth. Since the 2000/2001 season, he has been working as a freelance director, again at the Burgtheater and at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre, amongst others.

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In the aftermath, the university cleric addressed the town-vs-gown matter with an admonishing sermon "The Philistines Be Upon Thee", drawn from the Book of Judges (Chapt. 16, 'Samson vs the Philistines'), of the Tanakh and of the Christian Old Testament. In Word Research and Word History, the philologist Friedrich Kluge said that the word philistine originally had a positive meaning that identified a tall and strong man, such as Goliath; later the meaning changed to identify the "guards of the city".

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Composed in 1868, "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald", Op. 325, was one of six Viennese waltzes by Johann Strauss II which featured a virtuoso part for zither. The title of Strauss' dance recalls the folk music of the inhabitants of the Vienna Woods.

The waltz's introduction is one of the longest he ever wrote for a waltz, 119 bars in the musical score. It starts in C major, intertwining with F major before gaining ascendancy in volume and mood, finishing with a long pause. The second part is in the key of G major, with a solo violin incorporating material which appears again in successive waltz sections. A short flute cadenza evoking birdsong comes in, and moves on to the zither solo, marked moderato. The zither part involves two sub-sections of its own; the slowish ländler tempo and its more vigorous counterpart, with the direction of vivace (quickly). If the zither is unavailable, a string quartet plays the zither themes instead. Loud orchestral chords bring the waltz back to the familiar waltz theme in F major.

Waltz sections 2A and 2B are in B-flat major, whereas waltz 3A is in E-flat major with a quick section in B-flat in waltz 3B. The entire waltz section 4 is in B-flat as well, and waltz section 5 is wholly in E-flat. Waltz 5B contains the customary climax with cymbals and is loudly played. After a brief and tense coda, waltz 1A and 2B make a reappearance. As the waltz approaches its end, the zither solo makes another appearance, reprising its earlier melody in the introduction. A crescendo in the final bars concludes with a brass flourish and snare drumroll.

The Kleist Prize-winning drama Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (1931), by Ödön von Horváth, and the films Tales from the Vienna Woods (1928) and Tales from the Vienna Woods (1934) take their titles from this waltz.

Tales from the Vienna Woods (play)

Tales from the Vienna Woods (German: Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald, 1931) is a play by Austro-Hungarian writer Ödön von Horváth.

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The original name of the Neo-baroque construction by the architect Heinrich Seeling was Neues Theater. The first performance was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Iphigenie auf Tauris. Die Weber, a naturalistic drama by Gerhart Hauptmann had its premiere in a private audience at the theatre on February 26, 1893. From 1903 to 1906 the Neues Theater was under the management of Max Reinhardt; it later became the site of numerous operetta performances.

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From 1931 on the theatre was called Deutsches Nationaltheater am Schiffbauerdamm. Notable actors included Lotte Lenya, Carola Neher, Hilde Körber, Helene Weigel, Ernst Busch, Ernst Deutsch, Kurt Gerron, Theo Lingen and Peter Lorre. With the Nazi takeover in 1933 the theatre declined and was finally closed in 1944.

Reopened after World War II it was finally taken over by Bertolt Brecht. Today it is considered one of the most glamorous theatres in Germany and the building is currently undergoing historic preservation.

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Kling's scholarly interests are wide-ranging, and he has published on subjects as diverse as Johann Breitwieser, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Anthony Hecht, Aglaja Veteranyi and W.G. Sebald. As a prominent scholar of Austrian literature, he has written on the works of Austrian writers such as Heimito von Doderer, Heimrad Bäcker, Lilian Faschinger, Andreas Pittler, Ödön von Horváth, Gert Jonke and Gerhard Fritsch.

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Ödön is a male given name of Hungarian origin, since the 19th century Ödön became variant of Edmund. It may refer to:

Ödön Bárdi (1877–1958), actor

Ödön Beöthy (1796–1854), politician

Ödön Bodor (1882–1927), athlete

Ödön Földessy, long jumper

Ödön von Horváth (1901–1938), writer

Ödön Lechner (1845–1914), architect

Ödön Mihalovich (1842–1929), composer and music educator

Ödön Pártos (1907–1977), musician and composer

Ödön Singer (1831–1912), violinist

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