Brod, Max

views updated Jun 08 2018


BROD, MAX (1884–1968), Czech-born German author, composer, and representative member of the "Prague Circle" (Prager Kreis). Born in Prague, Brod studied law at the German university there and then entered the Czech civil service. After working in postal management in Prague, he became a minor government official for cultural affairs. In 1929 he joined the Prager Tagblatt as theatrical and musical editor. His acquaintance with Martin Buber, who gave lectures in Prague in 1909/10, influenced Brod as well as his encounter with a Yiddish actors group and, a few years later, with Jewish war refugees from Eastern Europe. He became active in the Zionist movement and helped found the National Council of Jews of Czechoslovakia in 1918. As its vice president he not only tried to gain equal rights for Jews but also national acceptance and cultural autonomy. As a central representative of the Prague Kulturzionismus he initiated the establishment of Hebrew schools in Prague. In 1939 he left Prague with his wife and settled in Tel Aviv, where he worked as a music critic and drama adviser to *Habimah.

Brod's prolific writings include poetry, fiction, plays, libretti, literary criticism and essays on philosophy, politics, and Zionism. The fundamental thought in all his writing is the problem of dualism, i.e., the difficulty of reconciling a belief in God with the evil that exists in the world. Man's task, he believes, is to strive toward perfection. Judaism, which represents the "miracle of this world," is a critical stage on this road as opposed to the "continuation of this world" in paganism and the "negation of this world" in Christianity. This is propounded in his most influential philosophical work, Heidentum, Christentum, Judentum, 2 vols. (1921). Brod's best-known writings are his 20 novels, some of them romantic, others historical. The former include Schloss Nornepygge (1908), Juedinnen (1911), Arnold Beer: Das Schicksal eines Juden (1912), Die Frau, nach der man sich sehnt (1927), and Die verbotene Frau (1960); among the latter are Tycho Brahes Weg zu Gott (1916; The Redemption of Tycho Brahe, 1928); Rëubeni, Fuerst der Juden (1925); Galilei in Gefangenschaft (1948); Unambo (1949), about the Israel War of Independence; Der Meister (1949) – another version of this book about Jesus appeared in Hebrew in 1956 with the title Aḥot Ketannah – and Armer Cicero (1955). Brod's plays include Eine Koenigin Esther (1918), Die Retterin (1919), Die Faelscher (1920), and Klarissas halbes Herz (1923). He also wrote a biography of Heine (1934).

Brod was the first person to recognize the unique quality of his lifelong friend Franz *Kafka, about whom he wrote his novel Das Zauberreich der Liebe (1928; The Kingdom of Love, 1930). It was Brod who arranged the publication of Kafka's works after the novelist's death despite Kafka's wish that the works be burned. His biography of Kafka appeared in 1937. He also revealed the genius of Jaroslav Hašek, author of The Good Soldier Schweik, and of the composers Leoš Janáček (whose biography he published in 1924–25) and Jaromir *Weinberger, publishing German translations of Janáček's Jenufa (1918) and Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper.

Many of Brod's books and plays were translated into Hebrew and together with Shin *Shalom he wrote two dramatic works in Hebrew: Sha'ul, Melekh Yisrael ("Saul, King of Israel," 1944) and the libretto for Marc *Lavry's opera Dan ha-Shomer (1945).

Brod's last works were his autobiography, Streitbares Leben (1960), and reminiscences, Der Prager Kreis (1967).

[Felix Weltsch /

Mirjam Triendl (2nd ed.)]

As a Composer

Brod studied music with Adolf Schreiber and began composing in 1900. Among his compositions are works for orchestra, notably Requiem Hebraicum, song cycles, and several suites. His musical style is lyrical and expressive, and thoughts about music were always woven into his novels and poetry. After he moved to Palestine, he tried to blend Oriental and European traditions in the "Mediterranean" style, as in Zwei israelische Bauerntänze, which was played by the Israel po. His book Die Musik Israel's (1951) deals with the early development of Israeli music. His numerous writings include a biography of Janiček and a book on Mahler (1961). He also translated opera librettos (notably for Janiček) in addition to writing his own.

[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]


F. Weltsch ed., Dichter, Denker, Helfer (Festschrift… Brod, 1934), includes bibliography of first editions; E.F. Taussig (ed.), Ein Kampf um Wahrheit (Festschrift… Brod, 1949); Riemann-Gurlitt, s.v.; Baker, Biog Dict, s.v.; Bergman, in: Ariel, no. 11 (1965), 5–11; Weltsch, in: Judaism, 14 (1965), 48–59; H. Gold (ed.), Max Brod-Ein Gedenkbuch (1969). add. bibliography: M. Pazi, Max Brod. Werk und Persönlichkeit (1970); idem (ed.), Max Brod 1884–1984 (1987); M.H. Gelber, "Max Brod's Zionist Writings," in: lbiyb, 33 (1988), 437–48; C.-E. Bärsch, Max Brod im "Kampf um das Judentum" (1992), bibl.; A. Herzog,"Max Brod," in: Metzler Lexikon der deutsch-jüdischen Literatur (2000) 90–93. music: Grove Online; mgg2; Y. Hirshberg, "The Opera 'Dan the Guard' by Marc Lavry. Its Origins and Structure," in: Tatzlil, 17 (1977) 123–34.

Brod, Max

views updated May 14 2018

Brod, Max

Brod, Max, significant Czech-born writer and composer; b. Prague, May 27, 1884; d. Tel Aviv, Dec. 20, 1968. In Prague he associated himself with Kafka and other writers of the New School, and himself publ, several psychological novels. He studied music at the German Univ. in Prague and became a music critic for various Czech and German publs. In 1939 he emigrated to Tel Aviv, where he continued his literary and musical activities. Among his compositions are Requiem Hebrai-cum (1943), 2 Israeli Peasant Dances for Piano and Small Orch. (Tel Aviv, April 24, 1947), several piano suites, and 14 song cycles. He wrote an autobiography, Streitbares Leben (Munich, 1960), a biography of Janáček (Prague, 1924), and a book on music in Israel (Tel Aviv, 1951).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Brod, Max

views updated Jun 08 2018

Brod, Max (b Prague, 1884; d Tel Aviv, 1968). Cz.-Israeli novelist, critic, and composer. Member of Prague group of writers which incl. Rilke, Werfel, and Kafka. Trans. Janáček's operas into Ger. and wrote his biography (1924). Mus. critic of Prague Tagblatt for many years. Went to Palestine 1939. Comp. requiem, songs, and chamber mus.

Brod, Max

views updated May 29 2018

Brod, Max (1884–1968) Czech novelist, critic, and philosopher. Although chiefly remembered for bringing to public attention the work of Franz Kafka, of whom he also wrote a biography, Brod was also a novelist in his own right. He was a Zionist and settled in Palestine as a refugee in 1939, where he later became director of the Habina Theatre.