Eidam, Klaus 1926-
EIDAM, Klaus 1926-
PERSONAL: Born May 5, 1926, in Chemnitz, Germany; son of Richard and Marthe (Kunze) Eidam; married Eva Bothur, 1956 (divorced, 1984); married Luise Seidel, March 17, 1985. Religion: Evangelical Lutheran. Hobbies and other interests: Organ playing, sailing.
ADDRESSES: Home—Ernst-Sachs-Strasse 12, 83080 Oberaudorf, Germany. Agent—c/o Mohrbooks, Klosbachstrasse 110, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
CAREER: Playwright, biographer, and theater director and producer. Actor in Berlin, East Germany, and Dresden, Germany, 1946-58; playwright, 1948—; freelance writer, 1956—; Veb Lied der Ziet, Berlin, Germany, leader of theatrical department, 1960-80; Meisel Musik, consulting dramaturg, 1980—. Military service: Infantryman in German army, 1944-45.
MEMBER: Dramatists Union.
AWARDS, HONORS: Three Golden Laurel awards, for work in German television; Kritiker award for best television screenplay, 1986, for J. S. Bach; Bismarck medal, 1994, for furtherance of German repertory; Bolten Beckers prize, 1996.
Robert Stolz: Biography of a Phenomenon, Lied der Zeit (Berlin, Germany), 1989.
(With Rudolf Schröder) 100 Jahre Will Meisel: eineBerliner Geschichte mit Musik, Meisel (Berlin, Germany), 1998.
The True Life of J. S. Bach, Piper (Munich, Germany), 1999, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Author of television scripts and stage plays produced in Germany. Translator of French, Italian, Hungarian, and English plays into German.
SIDELIGHTS: Klaus Eidam is a playwright and biographer who has also worked as a translator of plays from several languages into his native German. His love affair with German composer Johann Sebastian Bach prompted his 2001 biography, The True Life of J. S. Bach, which Michael Linton described in a First Things review as highly subjective. The author's "enthusiasm for Bach's music is matched by his disdain for previous biographers and professional musicology in general," noted Linton, although going on to note that Eidam excels at mining the composer's life for "interesting details" and "reporting unsubstantiated eighteenth-century gossip" in his enthusiastic and "entertaining" biography. In Library Journal critic Bonnie Jo Dopp dubbed The True Life of J. S. Bach a "sassy, self-serving . . . , yet engaging performance" by Eidam, an opinion echoed by a Publishers Weekly contributor who found the volume a "provocative, if sometimes flawed, alternative to standard studies."
Eidam told CA: "I always wrote because I could. Three months after starting my theatrical career as an actor, I had my first performance as a playwright. The play received applause three times during the opening scene, and I thought, 'I can do this.'
"I became fascinated by dramaturgical techniques, knowing their details and tricks. I learned from many successful authors, especially by translating plays from English, French, Italian, and Hungarian and adapting them for the German stage. I wrote more than seventy stage plays, television screenplays, and musical comedies. My twenty years as the head of a theatrical company of a music publishing house not only gave me close contacts in nearly all of the theaters in East Germany, but also with publishers in Great Britain, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Austria, and West Germany. As Germany at that time was divided by the Communist wall, someone told me, 'You are our hole in the wall.'
"I was interested in classical music as a youngster, and I played both the piano and the organ. I wrote biographical plays about the young Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, and Joseph Haydn, all of which received awards from German television. The four-part play about the life of Bach, realized together with Hungarian television, became a great success in 1985.
"When I began my theatrical career I was enchanted by operetta. I never understood the German music critics' contempt for 'light music,' which in reality takes much talent and hard work to produce. This resulted in Robert Stolz: Biography of a Phenomenon, a biographical work about the composer Robert Stolz.
"While I wrote the Stolz biography because I was angry about the contempt for light music, I wrote The True Life of J. S. Bach because I was angry about so many false statements that had been made about the life and work of Bach, most of them by careless critics who simply copied the opinions of others. There were, of course, some critics who disliked and even cursed my book, but there were also many readers, critics among them, who liked it because it was well researched.
"In 1989 my wife and I moved from Berlin to southern Bavaria near the Austrian border. I rediscovered my old liking for music again, and now I am a happy pensioner and organ player in the parish of Oberaudorf."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
First Things, January, 2002, Michael Linton, review of The True Life of J. S. Bach, pp. 51-53.
Library Journal, August, 2001, Bonnie Jo Dopp, review of The True Life of J. S. Bach, p. 111.
Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2001, review of The TrueLife of J. S. Bach, p. 60.