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Hofmannsthal, Hugo von
Hofmannsthal's plays are all written in verse, and most are modernized adaptations from other dramatists. His masterpiece, Electra (1903), was set to music by Richard Strauss. Dramas such as Jedermann (1911) and The Tower (1925, o.p.) showed him to be a serious and responsible social critic: their "deep symbolism is pervaded by an uncanny insight into the demonic forces and potentialities of our century" (LJ).
With Max Reinhardt, Hofmannsthal helped to found the Salzburg Festival of music and theater, which is still an annual event. He also collaborated successfully with Strauss, despite their divergent personalities and mutually preferred habit of working at a distance, through the mails. Hofmannsthal wrote the libretti for Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf NaxosDer Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Die Frau ohne Schatten.
In his poetry, almost all written in his early twenties, Hofmannsthal proved himself to be the most socially sensitive of the Viennese poets of the 1890s. A traditionalist writing in an era of experimentation, he wrote meditations on the theme of transience, noted for their elevated diction and technical perfection.
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