Brandes, Johann Christian
- Thomas Bauman
(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In May 1772 he and his actress wife Charlotte, then both with the Seyler company in Weimar, saw the first German melodrama, Anton Schweitzer’s setting (now lost) of Rousseau’s Pygmalion, in translation. Using H. W. von Gerstenberg’s tragic cantata Ariadne auf Naxos as a model, Brandes prepared a dramatic scene in the new genre to display Charlotte’s abilities. Schweitzer temporized in setting Brandes’s text, and after the troupe moved to Gotha it was given to the court Kapellmeister there, Georg Benda. The première of Ariadne auf Naxos on 27 January 1775 was a resounding success, mainly because of Benda’s music and Charlotte’s acting. Brandes wrote a second melodrama for his wife while he was theatrical director at Dresden in ...