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LUDWIG DEVRIENT (1784-1832)

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 135 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUDWIG DEVRIENT (1784-1832), born in Berlin on the 15th of December 1784, was the son of a silk merchant. He was apprenticed to an upholsterer, but, suddenly leaving his employment, joined a travelling theatrical company, and made his first appearance on the stage at Gera in 1804 as the messenger in Schiller's Braut von Messina. By the interest of Count Briihl, he appeared at Rudolstadt as Franz Moor in Schiller's Ri uber, so successfully that he obtained a permanent engagement at the ducal theatre in Dessau, where he played until 18o9. He then received a call to Breslau, where he remained for six years. So brilliant was his success in the title-parts of several of Shakespeare's plays, that If land began to fear for his own reputation; yet that great artist was generous enough to recommend the young actor as his only possible successor. On If land's death Devrient was summoned to Berlin, where he was for fifteen years the popular idol. He died there on the 3oth of December 1832. Ludwig Devrient was equally great in comedy and tragedy. Falstaff, Franz Moor, Shylock, King Lear and Richard II. were among his best parts. Karl von Holtei in his Reminiscences has given a graphic picture of him and the " demoniac fascination " of his acting. See Z. Funck, Aus dem Leben zweier Schauspieter, Ifflands and Devrients (Leipzig, 1838) ; H. Smidt in Devrient-Novellen (3rd ed., Berlin, 1882); R. Springer in the novel Devrient and Hoffmann (Berlin, 1873), and Eduard Devrient's Geschichte der deutschen Schauspielkunst (Leipzig, 1861). Three of the nephews of Ludwig Devrient, sons of his brother, a merchant, were also connected with the stage. KARL AUGUST DEVRIENT (1797-1872) was born at Berlin on the 5th of April 1797. After being for a short time in business, he entered a cavalry regiment as volunteer and fought at Waterloo. He then joined the stage, making his first appearance on the stage in 1819 at Brunswick. In 1821 he received an engagement at the court theatre in Dresden, where, in 1823, he married Wilhelmine Schroder (see SCHRODER-DEVRIENT). In 1835 he joined the company at Karlsruhe, and in 1839 that at Hanover. His best parts were Wallenstein and King Lear. He died on the 5th of April 1872. His brother PHILIPP EDUARD DEVRIENT (1801-1877), born at Berlin on the Iith of August 18o1, was for a time an opera singer. Turning his attention to theatrical management, he was from 1844 to 1846 director of the court theatre in Dresden. Appointed to Karlsruhe in 1852, he began a thorough reorganization of the theatre, and in the course of seventeen years of assiduous labour, not only raised it to a high position, but enriched its repertory by many noteworthy librettos, among which Die Gunst des Augenblicks and Verirrungen are the best known. But his chief work is his history of theGerman stage—Geschichte der deutschen Schauspielkunst (Leipzig, 1848-1874). He died on the 4th of October 1877. A complete edition of his works—Dramatische and dramaturgische Schriften—was published in ten volumes (Leipzig, 1846-1873). The youngest and the most famous of the three nephews of Ludwig Devrient was GUSTAV ESUL DEVRIENT (1803-1872), born in Berlin on the 4th of September 18o3. He made his first appearance on the stage in 1821, at Brunswick, as Raoul in Schiller's Jungfrau von Orleans. After a short engagement in Leipzig, he received in 1829 a call to Hamburg, but after two years accepted a permanent appointment at the court theatre in Dresden, to which he belonged until his retirement in 1868. His chief characters were Hamlet, Uriel Acosta (in Karl Gutzkow's play), Marquis Posa (in Schiller's Don Carlos), and Goethe's Torquato Tasso. He acted several times in London, where his Hamlet was considered finer than Kemble's or Edmund Kean's. He died on the 7th of August 1872.
End of Article: LUDWIG DEVRIENT (1784-1832)
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