Joseph Gregor

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Joseph Gregor (* 26 October 1888 Czernowitz – 12 October 1960 Vienna) was an Austrian writer, theatre historian and librettist.

Life and career[edit]

Joseph Gregor was born in Czernowitz. He studied musicology and philosophy at Vienna University, graduating in 1911. He worked under Max Reinhardt as assistant director and from 1912-14 as a lecturer in music at the Franz-Josephs-University of Chernivtsi. He was employed at the Austrian National Library in Vienna in 1918. There he founded the Theatre Collection in 1922, in which he included film after 1929. He also taught from 1932–38 and 1943-45 at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar.[1] In 1953 he retired from the service of the National Library.

Gregor's role in the era of National Socialism is disputed controversially: Gregor incorporated many libraries of politically persecuted intellectuals into the Austrian National Library. Some say, he did so in order to save these libraries, others say, Gregor profited from the policital persecution. An example is the autograph collection of Stefan Zweig in 1937, were Oskar Pausch sees a promise by Gregor to protect the collection after the regime change in 1938,[2] whereas others see the role of Gregor more critical;[3] the same is valid for the acquisition of the theater collection of Helene Richter (1861-1942) for the Austrian National Library.[4] In 1940 Gregor took over the library of Heinrich Schnitzler,[5] with whom he was friends.

His grave is located in the columbarium of the Feuerhalle, Simmering (Vienna). His son Čestmír Gregor became a noted composer.

Collaboration with Richard Strauss[edit]

A year after the seizure of power by the Nazis in Germany, Jewish librettist Stefan Zweig fled to London, leaving Richard Strauss to look for a new librettist. Originally recommended by Zweig, Joseph Gregor wrote three librettos for Richard Strauss: Friedenstag (1938), Daphne (1938) and Die Liebe der Danae (1944), as well as contributing to the texts of Capriccio (1942) and the posthumous school opera Des Esels Schatten. Never completely convinced by Gregor as a librettist, Strauss rejected his drafts for three other works: Celestina, Semiramis and Die Rache der Aphrodite.

After completion of Danae's score, Strauss was planning in 1940, at the suggestion of Heinz Drewes and Hans Joachim Moser, to collaborate with Gregor to rework the libretto of the opera Jessonda (music: Louis Spohr, libretto: Edward Henry Go ). When Gregor offered to rewrite the text of the opera Die schweigsame Frau to replace that of Stefan Zweig, Strauss refused and also withdrew from the Jessonda project.[6]


Gregor was one of the leading theater scholars of his time. He wrote several standard works, including The Acting Leader, with Margret Dietrich and Wolfgang Greisenegger which has been revised and reissued. In addition, he wrote acclaimed biographies of Alexander the Great, William Shakespeare and Richard Strauss.

Theoretical texts[edit]

  • The American theater and cinema: Two cultural and historical treatises, Amalthea-Verlag, Leipzig, 1931 (together with Rene Fulop Miller)
  • History of the theater, Phaidon Press, 1933 Zurich
  • Shakespeare, Phaidon Press, Vienna 1935
  • Pericles: Greece's greatness and tragedy, Munich 1938
  • Richard Strauss: The master of the opera, Piper, Munich 1939
  • Alexander the Great: The idea of world domination, Piper, Munich 1940
  • Cultural history of opera: Your connection to life, the works of the spirit and policy, Gallus Verlag, Wien 1941
  • The theater of the people of the Eastern March . German publisher of Youth and Community, Vienna 1943
  • Cultural history of ballet: Its design and effectiveness in the history and the arts, Gallus Verlag, Vienna 1944
  • History of the theater, Volume 1: From the origins to the output of the Baroque theater, Piper, 1944 (more forthcoming)
  • History of the Austrian theater, Danube-Verlag, Vienna 1948
  • The acting leader, ISSN 0342-4553
  • Richard Wagner in our time: Speech on the occasion of the founding of the Richard-Wagner-association, The mid-Verlag, Saarbrücken, 1958


  • Friedenstag, Opera (together with Stefan Zweig in 1934/35). Music (1934–36): Richard Strauss . UA 24th Munich, July 1938 ( National Theatre )
  • Daphne (1935/36) Bucolic Tragedy (Opera). Music (1936/37): Richard Strauss. UA 15 October 1938 in Dresden ( Semper )
  • Die Liebe der Danae (1936–40). Cheerful mythology (opera). Music (1938–40): Richard Strauss. UA 14 August 1952 in Salzburg ( Grosses Festspielhaus )
  • Capriccio (1935–39). Conversation piece for music (opera, together with Stefan Zweig, Richard Strauss, Clemens Krauss and Hans Swarovsky ). Music (1939–42): Richard Strauss. UA 28th Munich, October 1942 (National Theatre)
  • At the tree Daphne ("Beloved tree! From afar you wave ..."). Motet. Music (1943): Richard Strauss (TrV 272a, AV 137)
  • Florian Geyer, Opera. Music: Hans Ebert (1889-1952)


  1. ^ Peter Roessler, Günter Einbrodt, Susanne Gföller (Hg.) Die vergessenen Jahre. 75 Jahre Max Reinhardt Seminar. Wien 2004
  2. ^ Oskar Pausch: Richard Strauss, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Gregor und das Jahr 1938, Studien zur Musikwissenschaft (Gesellschaft zur Herausgabe von Denkmalern der Tonkunst in Osterriech) Band 47 (1999), S. 395-400. Vgl.
  3. ^ Peter Malina: Von Büchern und Menschen. Neue Veröffentlichungen zur NS-Geschichte des Bibliothekswesens. In: Mitteilungen der VÖB 60 (2007), Nr. 1, S. 56
  4. ^ Christiane Hoffrath: Widmungsexemplare aus der Bibliothek von Elise und Helene Richter. In: Stefan Alker, Christina Köstner, Markus Stumpf (Hg.): Bibliotheken in der NS-Zeit. Provenienzforschung und Bibliotheksgeschichte. Göttingen 2008. S. 118
  5. ^ Evelyn Adunka: Der Raub der Bücher. Über Verschwinden und Vernichten von Bibliotheken in der NS-Zeit und ihre Restitution nach 1945. Wien 2000. S. 196–111
  6. ^ Kurt Wilhelm: „Fürs Wort brauche ich Hilfe“. Die Geburt der Oper „Capriccio. München 1988, S. 225

Joseph Gregor. Gelehrter - Dichter - Sammler (edited by Christiane Mühlegger-Henhapel) Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2005 (Schriftenreihe des österreichischen Theatermuseums 1) ISBN 978-3-631-54299-6 (German)