Born in Vienna of prosperous and cultured parents. Became famous in Viennese intellectual circles at the age of sixteen for the flawless poems he published under the pen name 'Loris'. Studied Romance languages and literatures. Met Stefan George in 1891 and corresponded with him until 1906, when their friendship became strained. Suffered a painful intellectual crisis at the turn of the century, after which he wrote almost no poetry. Commenced a sometimes difficult relationship with the composer Richard Strauss in 1906, devoting much of his energy thereafter to the provision of libretti in perhaps the most famous of collaborations between literary and musical giants. Composed chamber plays of a decadent Symbolist kind before 1900, but later became involved with the world of the public theatre and throughout the rest of his life, having taken up residence in the palace at Rodaun near Vienna, sought to inculcate a humanistic and pan-European culture, often adapting the works of others in a manner which has been much misunderstood. Instrumental with Max Reinhardt and others in founding the now famous Salzburg Festival in 1920. Died suddenly of a heart attack whilst preparing to attend the funeral of his son, who had committed suicide. Wrongly assumed to be a rather marginal figure in the English-speaking world, and yet to be accorded the recognition that other luminaries of turn-of-the-century Vienna have subsequently enjoyed.
'Be absolute for death', the disguised Duke counsels the imprisoned Claudio in Act 3 of Shakespeare's darkest and most