Martin Schwab

Current as of July 2023

Martin Schwab studied acting at the Max Reinhardt School in Berlin, before moving to Vienna in 1962 for further studies at the Max Reinhardt Seminar. Engagements at the Oldenburg State Theatre, Theater Ulm, the Stuttgart State Theatre, the Schauspielhaus Bochum and the Schauspiel Frankfurt followed. In 1986 he made his debut at the Vienna Burgtheater in the role of Ferruccio in Thomas Bernhard’s Der Theatermacher (directed by Claus Peymann). He became a permanent member of the ensemble of the Burgtheater in 1987, and has appeared there in numerous productions since, including the world premiere of Bernhard’s Heldenplatz, Büchner’s Woyzeck, Handke’s Die Stunde, da wir nichts voneinander wußten (The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other) and Jelinek’s Totenauberg and Raststätte oder Sie machens alle. In 2007 he appeared in an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and in 2016 in Miller’s The Crucible (Hexenjagd). Highlights of recent seasons have included An Enemy of the People (Ein Volksfeind) and Antigone, Goethe’s Hermann and Dorothea alongside Maria Happel, Bernhard’s Die Jagdgesellschaft, Rainald Goetz’s Reich des Todes (Empire of Death) and, in December 2022, the world premiere of Peter Handke’s Zwiegespräch. In November 2022, he was honoured with a festival performance in celebration of his 85th birthday.

Since 1992 he has appeared regularly as a guest artist at the Reichenau Festival. He made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1982 in the world premiere of Handke’s Über die Dörfer (Walk about the Villages) and has since returned regularly to the Festival, including in the world premiere of Bernhard’s Der Theatermacher (1985), Schnitzler’s Der einsame Weg (The Lonely Way), Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the world premiere of Botho Strauss’s Das Gleichgewicht and Nestroy’s Höllenangst. In 1998 and 2000 he was a guest artist in the series ‘Dichter zu Gast’; in 2018 he participated in the reading of David Grossman’s Falling Out of Time (Aus der Zeit fallen) and in 2019 he appeared in Gorky’s Summer Folk (Sommergäste).

Martin Schwab has also made several guest appearances at the Berlin Theatertreffen festival, most recently in May 2023 with the Vienna Burgtheater’s production of Zwiegespräch.

Martin Schwab especially loves the connection between speech and music, and has enjoyed numerous collaborations with musical ensembles, and with the pianists Stefan Vladar and Helmut Deutsch. He participated in the complete performance of Robert Schumann’s Manfred at the Musikverein under Bruno Weill, in the cycle Poesie und Musik (Poetry and Music) and performed in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s L’imbalsamatore (The Embalmer) with Klangforum Wien. He has worked with renowned conductors such as Michael Gielen, Hans Zender, Manfred Honeck, Peter Keuschnig, Heinz Holliger and Gunar Letzbor at the Vienna Musikverein and the Vienna Konzerthaus, and performs regularly with the Merlin Ensemble Wien, with which, as an honorary member, he has a special connection.

In 1992 Martin Schwab received the Josef Kainz Medal from the City of Vienna. In 2000 he received the Nestroy Theatre Prize in the category ‘Best Supporting Role’ for his portrayal of the Bishop in Grillparzer’s Weh dem, der lügt! In 2003 the State of Vienna awarded him the Decoration of Honour in Gold; in 2005 he was awarded the professional title Kammerschauspieler; and in 2009 he was made an honorary member of the Vienna Burgtheater.

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