Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928

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Adolphe Appia was born on September 1, 1862 in Geneva, Switzerland. Regarded as the father of modern stage lighting and design, his reforms of stage design emphasized the significance of time and space, the relation of stage and auditorium, and the contrast of light and shadow. Appia's major works include La Mise en scène du drame Wagnérien (1895), Die Musik und die Inszenierung (1899), and L'Oeuvre d'art vivant (1921). Appia died in Nyon, Switzerland on February 29, 1928.

From the description of Donald Oenslager collection of Adolphe Appia, 1900-1971 (bulk 1920-1926). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702131705

Swiss set designer and art critic.

From the description of Collection of material by and relative to Adolphe Appia, 1908-1932 [microform] / Adolphe Appia. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 84213828

From the description of Correspondence, 1926-1931. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 79753921

Adolphe François Appia was born in Geneva, the son of Louis Paul Amédée Appia, a successful surgeon and one of the founders of the Red Cross. While a youth, he became fascinated with the theater, but since his family considered it an inappropriate career choice, he studied music at Geneva, Paris, Leipzig, and Dresden.

In 1884 Appia met Houston Stewart Chamberlain and became devoted to the works of Richard Wagner. With the help and encouragement of Chamberlain, he decided to become a designer and stage director.

Although he received scant recognition during his lifetime, Appia is regarded today as the father of modern stage lighting and design. His reforms of the antiquated nineteenth-century practice of stage design emphasized the significance of time and space, the relation of stage and auditorium, and the contrast of light and shadow. He devoted much of his lifework in particular to creating new productions of the operas of Richard Wagner.

Appia died on February 29, 1928, in a nursing home near Nyon, Switzerland.

Appia set down his theories on stage set design in two books and several essays, but much of his writing was published only in the 1950s and 1960s. The Fondation Adolphe Appia has as its objective the publication of all his works and the furtherance of his ideas.

For further biographical information, see Walther R. Volbach's Adolphe Appia, Prophet of the Modern Theatre: A Profile (1968).

From the guide to the Donald Oenslager collection of Adolphe Appia, 1900-1971, 1920-1926, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928. Donald Oenslager collection of Adolphe Appia, 1900-1971 (bulk 1920-1926). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928. Barnard Hewitt gift of Adolphe Appia materials. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
creatorOf Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928. Correspondence, 1926-1931. Getty Research Library
referencedIn Walther R. Volbach Papers FS 087., 1897-1996 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
creatorOf Donald Oenslager collection of Adolphe Appia, 1900-1971, 1920-1926 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928. Collection of material by and relative to Adolphe Appia, 1908-1932 [microform] / Adolphe Appia. Getty Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Appia, Edmond, 1894-1961. person
associatedWith Fischel, Oskar, 1870-1939. person
associatedWith Hume, Samuel James, 1885- person
associatedWith Jaques-Dalcroze, Emile, 1865-1950. person
associatedWith New York Public Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Oenslager, Donald, 1902-1975, person
associatedWith olbach, Walther R(Walther Richard), 1897- person
associatedWith Volbach, Walther R. person
associatedWith Wagner, Richard, 1813-1883 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Theaters--Stage-setting and scenery
Theater--Production and direction
Set designers
Opera--Production and direction
Occupation
Set designers
Opera producers and directors
Function

Person

Birth 1862-09-01

Death 1928-02-29

Swiss

French,

English,

German

Information

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SNAC ID: 22892448