The Theatrical Vision of Count Harry Kessler and its Impact on the Strauss-Hofmannsthal Partnership
Count Harry Kessler (1868–1937) was an intimate of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and a friend of Richard Strauss. Kessler’s early exposure to European literature and works of music theatre, and the extensive network of theatre contacts that he made, combined with his appreciation of art, gave him a particular theatrical vision that impacted on two stage works by the Strauss-Hofmannsthal partnership: the opera Der Rosenkavalier (1911) and the ballet Josephs Legende (1914). The thesis traces, in particular, the derivation of Der Rosenkavalier from a French opérette, L’Ingénu libertin (1907) by Louis Artus and Claude Terrasse, which Kessler (alone of the three partners) had seen. The dramatic and musical structure of this work is analysed and compared with the work that it went on to inspire. The thesis concludes that Kessler’s theatrical vision was a major component in the architecture and dramatic structure of both Der Rosenkavalier and Josephs Legende, and that he should be recognised as fully as one of the three co-creators of the former work, as he has already been of the latter.