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Baron Eligius Franz Joseph von Münch-Bellinghausen
(pseudonym: FRIEDRICH HALM)
An Austrian dramatist, born at Cracow, 2 April, 1806; died at Vienna, 22 May, 1871. He was educated at the seminary of Melk and later at Vienna, where he studied philosophy and jurisprudence, and where he began his official career in 1826. Even as a boy he took a keen interest in the theatre and since 1833 enjoyed the friendship of his former teacher, the Benedictine Michael Leopold Enk von der Burg, who himself had a strong bent for the drama and encouraged the poet to offer his drama "Griseldis" to the Hofburg theatre. Its successful production in 1835 established Halm's reputation as a playwright and henceforth he continued to write for the stage with varying success. In the meantime he advanced in his official career, becoming Government councillor in 1840 and Kustos (chief keeper) of the Court Library in 1844, a position that Grillparzer had sought in vain. He was elected member of the Academy of Sciences in 1852 and life member of the Upper House of Parliament in 1861. In 1867 he was appointed superintendent of the two court-theatres, but three years later resigned this position which disputes had made distasteful to him. His health also had been failing.
Of his many dramatic works the best known are "Griseldis" (1837); "Der Sohn der Wildnis" (1842); and "Der Fechter von Ravenna" (1857). "Griseldis" is based on the well-known story of the faithful wife whose loyalty and devotion are put to the severest tests but who triumphs in the end. "Der Sohn der Wildnis" (The Son of the Wilderness) is a romantic drama depicting the power of womanly love and virtue over rude barbarian strength. It was presented on the English stage under the title of "Ingomar the Barbarian". "Der Fechter von Ravenna" (The Gladiator of Ravenna), regarded as Halm's best work, is a tragedy having for its hero Thumelicus the son of Arminius, the liberator of Germany from Roman rule. Theatrically these plays are very effective, but the characters are improbable and the situations are often strained. Their popularity, which they owe largely to their smooth, polished diction and skilfully interspersed lyrics, has not been lasting. Of Halm's numerous other dramas we may mention "Iphigenie in Delphi" (1856); "Begum Somru" (1863); "Wildfeuer' (1864); and a German version of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" that appeared on the stage in 1842. Halm is also the author of lyrics, short stories, and of a narrative poem "Charfreitag" (Good Friday) (1864). A complete edition of his works, arranged in chronological order, appeared at Vienna (1856-64) in 8 vols.; four additional volumes were edited posthumously by Faust Pachler and Emil Kuh (Vienna, 1872); selections were edited by Anton Schlossar (Leipzig, - ).
See the introduction to SCHLOSSAR'S edition; SEIDL in Album österreich. Dichter (Vienna, 1850), 139 sq.; RUDOLF GOTTSCHALL, Porträts und Studien, V (Leipzig, 1876), 83-129; HANS HOPPEN, Streitfragen und Erinnerungen (Stuttgart, 1876).
ARTHUR F. J. REMY.