Bahr, Hermann (1863–1934) By Ifkovits, Kurt
Hermann Barr was an Austrian author, essayist, critic, editor, dramaturg, and director. His wide-ranging career spanned most of the fin de siècle’s major literary trends, such as naturalism, décadence, late Heimatkunst, and expressionism. Thanks to his strategic cultural alliances, openness to all things innovative, and multifaceted interests, he became one of the most prominent figures of Viennese modernism.
Following stays in Paris (1888–9) and Berlin as a collaborator at the Freie Bühne theater club, Bahr returned to Vienna with a sense of purpose. He began championing aesthetic modernism and associating with protagonists from the Viennese literary scene (Leopold von Andrian, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler). As the self-proclaimed leader of the Young Vienna literary circle, Bahr became a tireless advocate and interpreter of innovative aesthetic movements, trends, and styles.
Bahr’s theater work included dramaturgy and directing with Max Reinhardt in Berlin (1906–7) and a brief term as lead dramaturg of the Burgtheater (1918). His literary work is wide in scope, encompassing many dramas, novels, and an autobiography. From 1894 to 1899 he was the co-founder, art editor, and co-editor-in-chief of the Viennese weekly journal Die Zeit. His significance for contemporary readers lies less in his literary oeuvre than in his importance as a critic, crusader, practitioner, and networker.