Kotzebue, August von
- Peter Branscombe
(b Weimar, May 3, 1761; d Mannheim, March 23, 1819). German dramatist, diplomat and man of letters. His adventurous career included appointments as lawyer and theatre secretary, Russian court councillor and editor, poet and Russian consul. His satires, his quarrels, and above all his duty to report to the Tsar of Russia on all affairs of interest in Germany and France, made him many enemies, and he was assassinated in 1819 by a student who suspected him of being a traitor and spy.
Kotzebue’s immense output of plays includes a majority of ephemera, yet he dominated the repertory of German and Austrian (and many foreign) theatres for a considerable part of the 19th century, and the best of his comedies (including Die deutschen Kleinstädter, the first of a prodigious number of plays set in the self-important country town of Krähwinkel, the German equivalent of Gotham) are still effective. Beethoven wrote music for his ...