Devrient (Actors) - Encyclopedia




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DEVRIENT, the name of a family of German actors.

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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 Rduber, so successfully that he obtained a permanent engagement at the ducal theatre in Dessau, where he played until 1809. 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 Iffland 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 Iflland's death Devrient was summoned to Berlin, where he was for fifteen years the popular idol. He died there on the 30th 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 Schauspieler, 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

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