Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, also called Comte (Count) Maeterlinck from 1932, (mo.ʁis ma.tɛʁ.lɛ̃ːk in Belgium, mɛ.teʁ.lɛ̃ːk in France; 29 August 1862 – 6 May 1949) was a Belgian playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

, poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, and essayist who wrote in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life. His plays form an important part of the Symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...


Early life

Maeterlinck was born in Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 to a wealthy, French-speaking family. His father, Polydore, was a notary who enjoyed tending the greenhouse
A greenhouse is a building in which plants are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings...

s on their property. His mother, Mathilde, came from a wealthy family.

In September 1874 he was sent to the Jesuit College of Sainte-Barbe, where works of the French Romantics
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 were scorned and only plays on religious subjects were permitted. His experiences at this school influenced his distaste for the Catholic Church and organized religion.

He had written poems and short novels during his studies, but his father wanted him to go into law. After finishing his law studies at the University of Ghent in 1885, he spent a few months in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. He met some members of the new Symbolism
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 movement, Villiers de l'Isle Adam
Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam
Jean-Marie-Mathias-Philippe-Auguste, comte de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam was a French symbolist writer.-Life:Villiers de l'Isle-Adam was born in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, to a distinguished aristocratic family...

 in particular, who would have a great influence on Maeterlinck's subsequent work.


Maeterlinck instantly became a public figure when his first play, Princess Maleine, received enthusiastic praise from Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau was a French journalist, art critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright, who achieved celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde...

, the literary critic of Le Figaro
Le Figaro
Le Figaro is a French daily newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. It is one of three French newspapers of record, with Le Monde and Libération, and is the oldest newspaper in France. It is also the second-largest national newspaper in France after Le Parisien and before Le Monde, but...

in August 1890. In the following years, he wrote a series of symbolist plays characterized by fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

 and mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, most importantly Intruder (1890), The Blind
The Blind
The Blind , also known as The Sightless, is a play that was written in 1890 by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. It is an intense one-act play, which was one of the pieces mentioned in a list of Maeterlinck’s most characteristic plays. This list was highlighted in the speech given to...

(1890) and Pelléas and Mélisande
Pelléas and Mélisande
Pelléas and Mélisande is a Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. It was first performed in 1893....


He had a relationship with the singer and actress Georgette Leblanc
Georgette Leblanc
Georgette Leblanc was a French operatic soprano, actress, author, and the sister of novelist Maurice Leblanc. She became particularly associated with the works of Jules Massenet and was an admired interpreter of the title role in Bizet's Carmen...

 from 1895 till 1918. Leblanc influenced his work for the following two decades. With the play Aglavaine and Sélysette Maeterlinck began to create characters, especially female characters, more in control of their destinies. Leblanc performed these female characters on stage. Even though mysticism and metaphysics influenced his work throughout his career, he slowly replaced his Symbolism with a more existential style.

In 1895, with his parents frowning upon his open relationship with an actress, Maeterlinck and Leblanc moved to the district of Passy
Passy is an area of Paris, France, located in the XVIe arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It is traditionally home to many of the city's wealthiest residents.Passy was formerly a commune...

 in Paris. The Catholic Church was unwilling to grant her a divorce from her Spanish husband. They frequently entertained guests, including Mirbeau, Jean Lorrain
Jean Lorrain
Jean Lorrain , born Paul Duval, was a French poet and novelist of the Symbolist school....

, and Paul Fort
Paul Fort
Paul Fort was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. At the age of 18, reacting against the Naturalistic theatre, Fort founded the Théâtre d’Art...

. They spent their summers in Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

. During this period, Maeterlinck published his Twelve Songs (1896), The Treasure of the Humble (1896), The Life of the Bee (1901), and Ariadne and Bluebeard (1902).

In 1903, Maeterlinck received the Triennial Prize for Dramatic Literature from the Belgian government.

In 1906, Maeterlinck and Leblanc moved to a villa in Grasse
-See also:*Route Napoléon*Ancient Diocese of Grasse*Communes of the Alpes-Maritimes department-External links:*...

. He spent his hours meditating and walking. As he emotionally pulled away from Leblanc, he entered a state of depression. Diagnosed with neurasthenia
Neurasthenia is a psycho-pathological term first used by George Miller Beard in 1869 to denote a condition with symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, headache, neuralgia and depressed mood...

, he rented the Benedictine Abbey of St. Wandrille
Fontenelle Abbey
Fontenelle Abbey or the Abbey of St. Wandrille is a Benedictine monastery in the commune of Saint-Wandrille-Rançon near Caudebec-en-Caux in Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France.-First foundation:...

 in Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 to help him relax. Leblanc would often walk around in the dress of an abbess; he would wear roller skates as he moved about the house. During this time, he wrote his essay "The Intelligence of Flowers" (1906), in which he discussed politics and championed socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 ideas. He donated money to many workers' unions and socialist groups. At this time he conceived his greatest contemporary success: the fairy play The Blue Bird (1908). He also wrote Marie-Victoire (1907) and Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene (1910 play)
Mary Magdalene is a 1910 play by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. It inspired a symphonic work by Kosaku Yamada.*...

(1910) with lead roles for Leblanc. With the exception of The Blue Bird, critics did not praise these plays and considered Leblanc no longer an inspiration to the playwright. Even though alfresco performances of some of his plays at St. Wandrille had been successful, Maeterlinck felt that he was losing his privacy. The death of his mother on 11 June 1910 added to his depression.

In 1910 he met the 18-year-old actress Renée Dahon during a rehearsal of The Blue Bird. She became his lighthearted companion. Winning the Nobel Prize for Literature served to heighten his spirits, as well. By 1913, he was more openly socialist and sided with the Belgian trade unions against the Catholic party during a strike. He began to study mysticism and lambasted the Catholic Church in his essays for misconstruing the history of the universe. By a decree of 26 January 1914, his opera omnia were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum
Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. A first version was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form was authorized at the Council of Trent...

 by the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...


When Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 invaded Belgium in 1914, Maeterlink wished to join the French Foreign Legion
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

, but his application was denied due to his age. He and Leblanc decided to leave Grasse for a villa near Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

, where he spent the next decade of his life. He gave speeches on the bravery of the Belgian people and placed guilt upon all Germans for the war. While in Nice he wrote The Mayor of Stilmonde, which was quickly labeled by the American press as a "Great War Play." He also wrote The Betrothal, a sequel to The Blue Bird, in which the heroine of the play is clearly not a Leblanc archetype.

On 15 February 1919 Maeterlinck married Dahon. He accepted an invitation to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn was an American film producer, and founding contributor executive of several motion picture studios.-Biography:...

 asked him to produce a few scenarios for film. Only two of Maeterlinck's submissions still exist; Goldwyn didn't use any of them. Maeterlinck had prepared one based on his The Life of the Bee. After reading the first few pages Goldwyn burst out of his office, exclaiming: "My God! The hero is a bee!"

By the 1920s, Maeterlinck found himself no longer in tune with the times. His plays of this period (The Power of the Dead, The Great Secret, Berniquel) received little attention. Dahon gave birth to a stillborn child in 1925.

Alleged Plagiarism

In 1926 Maeterlinck published La Vie des Termites (translated into English as The Life of the Termite or The Life of the White Ant), an entomological
Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of arthropodology...

 book that plagiarised
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

 the book The Soul of the (White) Ant, researched and written by the Afrikaner poet and scientist Eugene Marais
Eugene Marais
Eugène Nielen Marais was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet and writer.- His early years, before and during the Boer War :Marais was born in Pretoria, the thirteenth and last child of his parents, Jan Christiaan Nielen Marais and Catharina Helena Cornelia van Niekerk...

, in what has been called "a classic example of academic plagiarism" by University of London's
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen Mary, University of London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 professor of biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, David Bignell.

Marais accused Maeterlinck of having used his concept of the "organic unity" of the termitary in his book. Marais had published his ideas on the termitary in the South African Afrikaans-language press, both in Die Burger
Die Burger
Die Burger is a daily Afrikaans language newspaper, published by Naspers. By 2008, it had a circulation of 91,665 in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa...

in January 1923 and in Huisgenoot
Huisgenoot is a weekly Afrikaans-language general interest family magazine. It has the highest circulation figures of any South African magazine and is followed by sister magazine YOU, its English language version. A third magazine, Drum, is directed at the black market...

, which featured a series of articles on termites under the title "Die Siel van die Mier" (The Soul of the (White) Ant) from 1925 to 1926. Maeterlinck's book, with almost identical content, was published in 1926. Maeterlinck was able to commit the plagiarism because he was Belgian and, though his mother tongue was French, he was fluent in Dutch, from which Afrikaans was derived. It was common at the time for worthy articles published in Afrikaans to be reproduced in Flemish and Dutch magazines and journals.

Supported by a coterie of Afrikaner
Afrikaners are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from almost equal numbers of Dutch, French and German settlers whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives primarily from 17th century Dutch, and a variety of other languages.-Related ethno-linguistic groups:The...

 Nationalist friends, Marais sought justice through the South African press and attempted an international lawsuit. This was to prove financially impossible and the case was not pursued. However, Marais gained a measure of renown as the aggrieved party and as an Afrikaner researcher who had opened himself up to plagiarism because he published in Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 out of nationalistic loyalty. Marais brooded at the time of the scandal: "I wonder whether Maeterlinck blushes when he reads such things [critical acclaim], and whether he gives a thought to the injustice he does to the unknown Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...


Maeterlinck's own words in The Life of the Termite indicate that the possible discovery or accusation of plagiarism worried him:

It would have been easy, in regard to every statement, to allow the text to bristle with footnotes and references. In some chapters there is not a sentence but would have clamoured for these; and the letterpress would have been swallowed up by vast masses of comment, like one of those dreadful books we hated so much at school. There is a short bibliography at the end of the volume which will no doubt serve the same purpose.

Despite these misgivings, there is no reference to Eugene Marais
Eugene Marais
Eugène Nielen Marais was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet and writer.- His early years, before and during the Boer War :Marais was born in Pretoria, the thirteenth and last child of his parents, Jan Christiaan Nielen Marais and Catharina Helena Cornelia van Niekerk...

 in the bibliography. Maeterlinck's other works on entomology include The Glass Spider (1923) and The Life of the Ant (1930).

Robert Ardrey
Robert Ardrey
Robert Ardrey was an American playwright and screenwriter who returned to his academic training in anthropology and the behavioral sciences in the 1950s....

, an admirer of Eugene Marais's, attributed Marais's later suicide to this act of plagiarism and theft of intellectual property by Maeterlinck, although Marais' biographer, Leon Rousseau, speculated that Marais enjoyed and thrived on the controversy and attention generated by the controversy.

Later life

In 1930 he bought a château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

 in Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

, France, and named it Orlamonde, a name occurring in his work Quinze Chansons.

He was made a count by Albert I, King of the Belgians
Albert I of Belgium
Albert I reigned as King of the Belgians from 1909 until 1934.-Early life:Born Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad in Brussels, he was the fifth child and second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and his wife, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen...

 in 1932.

According to an article published in the New York Times in 1940, he arrived in the United States from Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 on the Greek Liner Nea Hellas. He had fled to Lisbon in order to escape the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 invasion of both Belgium and France. The Times quoted him as saying, "I knew that if I was captured by the Germans I would be shot at once, since I have always been counted as an enemy of Germany because of my play, The Mayor of Stilmonde, which dealt with the conditions in Belgium during the German Occupation of 1918." As with his earlier visit to America, he still found Americans too casual, friendly and Francophilic
Is a person with a positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture, history, or people of France. This could include France itself and its history, the French language, French cuisine, literature, etc...

 for his taste.

He returned to Nice after the war on 10 August 1947. In 1948, the French Academy awarded him the Medal for the French Language. He died in Nice on 6 May 1949 after suffering a heart attack. There was no priest at his funeral.

Static drama

Maeterlinck, an avid reader of Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

, considered man powerless against the forces of fate. He believed that any actor, due to the hindrance of physical mannerisms and expressions, would inadequately portray the symbolic
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 figures of his plays. He concluded that marionette
A marionette is a puppet controlled from above using wires or strings depending on regional variations. A marionette's puppeteer is called a manipulator. Marionettes are operated with the puppeteer hidden or revealed to an audience by using a vertical or horizontal control bar in different forms...

s were an excellent alternative. Guided by strings operated by a puppeteer, Maeterlinck considered marionettes an excellent representation of fate's complete control over man. He wrote Interior, The Death of Tintagiles, and Alladine and Palomides for marionette theatre.

From this, he gradually developed his notion of the "static drama." He felt that it was the artist's responsibility to create something that did not express human emotions but rather the external forces that compel people. Materlinck once wrote that "the stage is a place where works of art are extinguished. [...] Poems die when living people get into them."

He explained his ideas on the static drama in his essay "The Tragic in Daily Life" (1896), which appeared in The Treasure of the Humble. The actors were to speak and move as if pushed and pulled by an external force, fate as puppeteer. They were not to allow the stress of their inner emotions to compel their movements. Maeterlinck would often continue to refer to his cast of characters as "marionettes."

Maeterlinck's conception of modern tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

 rejects the intrigue and vivid external action of traditional drama in favour of a dramatisation of different aspects of life:

He cites a number of classical Athenian tragedies
Theatre of Ancient Greece
The theatre of Ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece between c. 550 and c. 220 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political and military power during this period, was its centre, where it was...

—which, he argues, are almost motionless and which diminish psychological action to pursue an interest in "the individual, face to face with the universe"—as precedents for his conception of static drama; these include most of the works of Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 and Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

' Ajax
Ajax (Sophocles)
Sophocles's Ajax is a Greek tragedy written in the 5th century BC. The date of Ajax's first performance is unknown, but most scholars regard it as an early work, circa 450 - 430 B.C....

, Antigone
Antigone (Sophocles)
Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 442 BC. Chronologically, it is the third of the three Theban plays but was written first...

, Oedipus at Colonus
Oedipus at Colonus
Oedipus at Colonus is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles...

, and Philoctetes
Philoctetes (Sophocles)
Philoctetes is a play by Sophocles . The play was written during the Peloponnesian War. It was first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC, where it won first prize. The story takes place during the Trojan War...

. With these plays, he claims:

Maeterlinck in music

Pelléas and Mélisande
Pelléas and Mélisande
Pelléas and Mélisande is a Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. It was first performed in 1893....

inspired four major musical compositions at the turn of the 20th century:
  • 1898: an orchestral suite (sometimes described as incidental music
    Incidental music
    Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film or some other form not primarily musical. The term is less frequently applied to film music, with such music being referred to instead as the "film score" or "soundtrack"....

    ) by Gabriel Fauré
    Gabriel Fauré
    Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers...

     (Op. 80)
  • 1893-1902: an opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

     by Claude Debussy
    Claude Debussy
    Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

     (L. 88, Paris) - see Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
    Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
    Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's Symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande...

  • 1902-1903: a symphonic poem
    Symphonic poem
    A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

     by Arnold Schoenberg
    Arnold Schoenberg
    Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

     (Op. 5)
  • 1905: incidental music by Jean Sibelius
    Jean Sibelius
    Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

     (Op. 46) - see
    Pelléas et Mélisande (Sibelius)
    Pelléas et Mélisande (Sibelius)
    Pelléas et Mélisande, is incidental music in ten parts written in 1905 by Jean Sibelius, for Maurice Maeterlinck's 1892 drama Pelléas et Mélisande. Sibelius later on slightly rearranged the music into an nine movement suite, published as Op...


Other musical works based on Maeterlinck's plays include:
  • Aglavaine and Sélysette
    • orchestral prelude by Arthur Honegger
      Arthur Honegger
      Arthur Honegger was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which is interpreted as imitating the sound of a steam locomotive.-Biography:Born...

  • Aladina and Palomid
    • opera by Burghauser
    • opera by Osvald Chlubna
      Osvald Chlubna
      Osvald Chlubna was a prominent Czech composer. Intending originally to study engineering, Chlubna switched his major and from 1914 to 1924, he studied composition with Leoš Janáček. Until 1953, he worked as a clerk. Later, he taught at the Organ School in Brno for many years. He worked in many art...

    • opera by Emil František Burian
      Emil František Burian
      Emil František Burian was a Czech poet, journalist, singer, actor, musician, composer, dramatic adviser, playwright and director. He was also active in Communist Party of Czechoslovakia politics.- Life :...

  • Ariane et Barbe-bleue
    Ariane et Barbe-bleue
    Ariane et Barbe-bleue is an opera in three acts by Paul Dukas. The French libretto is adapted from the symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck....

    • opera in 3 acts by Paul Dukas
      Paul Dukas
      Paul Abraham Dukas was a French composer, critic, scholar and teacher. A studious man, of retiring personality, he was intensely self-critical, and he abandoned and destroyed many of his compositions...

    • incidental music by Anatoly Nikolayevich Alexandrov
      Anatoly Nikolayevich Alexandrov
      Anatoly Nikolayevich Alexandrov was a Russian composer of works for piano and for other instruments, and pianist. His initial works had a mystical element, but he downplayed this to better fit Socialist realism. He led a somewhat retiring life, but received several honors.Alexandrov was the son...

  • The Betrothal
    • incidental music by Armstrong Gibbs

  • The Blind
    • opera by Beat Furrer
      Beat Furrer
      Beat Furrer is an Austrian composer and conductor of Swiss birth.Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Furrer relocated to Vienna in 1975 to pursue studies with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and Otmar Suitner . In 1985 he co-founded what is now one of Europe's leading contemporary music ensembles,...

    • opera Slepcy by Polish composer Jan Astriab after Maeterlinck's Les aveugles

  • The Death of Tintagiles
    • symphonic poem by Charles Martin Loeffler
      Charles Martin Loeffler
      Charles Martin Loeffler was a German-born American violinist and composer.- Birthplace :Throughout his career Loeffler claimed to have been born in Mulhouse, Alsace and almost all music encyclopedias give this fabricated information. In his lifetime articles were published dissecting his...

    • incidental music by Ralph Vaughan Williams
      Ralph Vaughan Williams
      Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...

    • opera by Lawrance Collingwood
      Lawrance Collingwood
      Lawrance Arthur Collingwood CBE was an English conductor, composer and record producer.Lawrance Collingwood was born in London and became a choirboy at Westminster Abbey. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Exeter College, Oxford...

    • overture by Carse
      In Scottish geography, a Carse is an area of low-lying, typically alluvial and fertile land occupying certain Scottish river valleys, such as that of the River Forth.-Carse of Forth :...

    • opera by Nougues
    • symphonioc poem by Santoliquido
    • orchestral prelude by Voormolen

  • Monna Vanna
    • opera in 3 acts by Emil Ábrányi
      Emil Ábrányi
      Emil Ábrányi was a Hungarian composer, conductor, and opera director.He was conductor at the Royal Hungarian Opera House from 1911 to 1919 and director there from 1919 to 1920. In 1921 he became the director at the Budapest Municipal Theatre where he remained until 1926. For many years he taught...

    • Monna Vanna
      Monna Vanna (Février)
      Monna Vanna is a drame lyrique or opera in four acts by composer Henry Février. The opera's French libretto is by playwright Maurice Maeterlinck and is based on his play of the same name. The opera premiered on 13 January 1909 at the Académie Nationale de Musique in Paris.- Roles :-External links:**...

      , opera in 4 acts by Henry Février
      Henry Février
      Henry Février was a French composer.-Biography:Henry Février studied at the Paris Conservatoire where his teachers included Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. He also took private lessons with André Messager...

    • Monna Vanna - an unfinished opera by Sergei Rachmaninoff
      Sergei Rachmaninoff
      Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music...

    • opera in 4 acts by Nicolae Brânzeu

  • L'oiseau bleu
    L'oiseau bleu
    L'oiseau bleu is an opera in four acts by the French composer and conductor Albert Wolff. The libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck is based on his 1908 play of the same name.-Performance history:...

    • opera by Albert Wolff
    • 13 scenes for orchestra by Fritz Hart
    • incidental music by Leslie Heward
      Leslie Heward
      Leslie Heward was an English composer and conductor.He was particularly associated with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Halle....

    • incidental music by Engelbert Humperdinck
      Engelbert Humperdinck
      Engelbert Humperdinck was a German composer, best known for his opera, Hänsel und Gretel. Humperdinck was born at Siegburg in the Rhine Province; at the age of 67 he died in Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.-Life:After receiving piano lessons, Humperdinck produced his first composition...

    • overture by Kricka
    • incidental music by Norman O'Neill
    • incidental music by Szeligowski

  • Princess Maleine
    • overture
      Overture in music is the term originally applied to the instrumental introduction to an opera...

       by Pierre de Bréville
    • overture by Cyril Scott
      Cyril Scott
      Cyril Meir Scott was an English composer, writer, and poet.-Biography:Scott was born in Oxton, England to a shipper and scholar of Greek and Hebrew, and Mary Scott , an amateur pianist. He showed a talent for music from an early age and was sent to the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany to...

    • unfinished opera (or incidental music) by Lili Boulanger
      Lili Boulanger
      Lili Boulanger was a French composer, the younger sister of the noted composer and composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.-Early years:A Parisian-born child prodigy, who was good at piano...

    • incidental music by Maximilian Steinberg
      Maximilian Steinberg
      Maximilian Osseyevich Steinberg was a Russian composer of classical music born in what is now Lithuania.-Life:...

  • The Seven Princesses
    • incidental music by Bréville
    • opera by Nechayev

  • Soeur Beatrice
    • opera by Alexander Grechaninov
    • chorus by Anatoly Liadov
    • opera Sor Beatriz by Marquez Puig
    • opera by Dmitri Mitropoulos
    • opera by Rasse
      Rasse may refer to:*Small Indian Civet*Masaki Okimoto, Japanese professional wrestler, whose stage name is Rasse...


  • Serres chaudes (1889)
  • Douze chansons (1896)
  • Quinze chansons (expanded version of Douze chansons) (1900)


  • La Princesse Maleine (Princess Maleine) (published 1889)
  • L'Intruse (Intruder) (published 1890; first performed 21 May 1891)
  • Les Aveugles (The Blind
    The Blind
    The Blind , also known as The Sightless, is a play that was written in 1890 by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. It is an intense one-act play, which was one of the pieces mentioned in a list of Maeterlinck’s most characteristic plays. This list was highlighted in the speech given to...

    ) (published 1890; first performed 7 December 1891)
  • Les Sept Princesses (The Seven Princesses) (published 1891)
  • Pelléas and Mélisande
    Pelléas and Mélisande
    Pelléas and Mélisande is a Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. It was first performed in 1893....

    (published 1892; first performed 17 May 1893)
  • Alladine et Palomides (published 1894)
  • Intérieur (Interior) (published 1894; first performed 15 March 1895)
  • La Mort de Tintagiles (The Death of Tintagiles) (published 1894)
  • Aglavaine et Sélysette (first performed December 1896)
  • Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Ariane and Bluebeard) (first published in German translation, 1899)
  • Soeur Béatrice (Sister Beatrice) (published 1901)
  • Monna Vanna (first performed May 1902; published the same year)
  • Joyzelle (first performed 20 May 1903; published the same year)
  • Le Miracle de saint Antoine (The Miracle of Saint Antony) (first performed in German translation, 1904)
  • L'Oiseau bleu (The Blue Bird) (first performed 30 September 1909)
  • Marie-Magdeleine (Mary Magdalene
    Mary Magdalene (1910 play)
    Mary Magdalene is a 1910 play by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. It inspired a symphonic work by Kosaku Yamada.*...

    ) (first performed in German translation, February 1910; staged and published in French, 1913)
  • Le Bourgmestre de Stilmonde (first performed in Buenos Aires
    Buenos Aires
    Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

    , 1918; published 1919)
  • Les Fiançailles (published 1922)
  • Le Malheur passe (published 1925)
  • La Puissance des morts (published 1926)
  • Berniquel (published 1926)
  • Marie-Victoire (published 1927)
  • Judas de Kerioth (published 1929)
  • La Princess Isabelle (published 1935)
  • L'Autre Monde ou le cadran stellaire (The Other World, or The Star System) (1941)
  • Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) (published 1943)


  • Le Trésor des humbles (The Treasure of the Humble) (1896)
  • La sagesse et la destinée (Wisdom and Destiny) (1898)
  • La Vie des abeilles (The Life of the Bee) (1901)
  • Le temple enseveli (The Buried Temple) (1902)
  • Le Double Jardin (The Double Garden) (1904)
  • L'Intelligence des fleurs (The Intelligence of Flowers) (1907)
  • L'Hôte inconnu (first published in English translation, 1914; in original French, 1917)
  • Les Débris de la guerre (1916)
  • La Vie des termites (The Life of the Termite) (1926)
  • La Vie de l'espace (The Life of Space) (1928)
  • La Grande Féerie (1929)
  • La Vie des fourmis (The Life of the Ant) (1930)
  • L'Araignée de verre (1932)
  • Avant la grande silence (Before the Great Silence) (1934)
  • L'Ombre des ailes (The Shadow of Wings) (1936)
  • Devant Dieu (1937)


  • Le Livre des XII béguines and L'Ornement des noces spirituelles, translated from the Flemish of Ruysbroeck (1885)
  • L'Ornement des noces spirituelles de Ruysbroeck l'admirable (1891)
  • Annabella, an adaptation of John Ford's
    John Ford (dramatist)
    John Ford was an English Jacobean and Caroline playwright and poet born in Ilsington in Devon in 1586.-Life and work:...

     'Tis Pity She's a Whore
    'Tis Pity She's a Whore
    'Tis Pity She's a Whore is a tragedy written by John Ford. It was likely first performed between 1629 and 1633, by Queen Henrietta's Men at the Cockpit Theatre. The play was first published in 1633, in a quarto printed by Nicholas Okes for the bookseller Richard Collins...

    (performed 1894)
  • Les Disciples à Saïs and Fragments de Novalis from the German of Novalis
    Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg , an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism.-Biography:...

    , together with an Introduction by Maeterlinck on Novalis and German Romanticism (1895)
  • Translation and adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth
    The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

    (performed 1909)

See also

  • The 100th anniversary of Maurice Maeterlinck's greatest contemporary success, his play The Blue Bird, was selected as the main motif of a high-value collectors' coin: the Belgian 50 euro Maurice Maeterlinck commemorative coin, minted in 2008.
  • Belgian literature
    Belgian literature
    Because Belgium is a multilingual country,French, Dutch and German are legally the three official languages in Belgium see: EU-Belgium Belgian literature is divided into two main linguistic branches following the two most prominently spoken languages in the country - Dutch and French...

Further reading

  • W. L. Courtney
    William Leonard Courtney
    William Leonard Courtney was an English author, born at Poona, India, and educated at Oxford. In 1873 he became headmaster of Somersetshire College, Bath, and in 1894 editor of the Fortnightly Review.-Works:...

    , The Development of M. Maeterlinck (London, 1904)
  • M. J. Moses
    Montrose Jonas Moses
    Montrose Jonas Moses was an American author, born in New York, where he graduated from the City College in 1899....

    , Maurice Maeterlinck: A Study (New York, 1911)
  • E. Thomas, Maurice Maeterlinck, (New York, 1911)
  • J. Bethell, The life and Works of Maurice Maeterlinck (New York, 1913)
  • Archibald Henderson
    Archibald Henderson (professor)
    Archibald Henderson was an American professor of mathematics who wrote on a variety of subjects, including drama and history. He was born at Salisbury, N. C., was educated at the University of North Carolina , and studied more at Chicago, Cambridge, and Berlin universities, and at the Sorbonne...

    , European Dramatists (Cincinnati, 1913)
  • E. E. Slosson
    Edwin Emery Slosson
    Edwin Emery Slosson was an American editor, author and chemist. He was born in Albany, Kansas, and was educated at the University of Kansas and at the University of Chicago . From 1891 to 1903 he was professor of chemistry at the University of Wyoming, and chemist at the Wyoming Agricultural...

    , Major Prophets of To-Day (Boston, 1914)
  • G. F. Sturgis, The Psychology of Maeterlinck as Shown in his Dramas (Boston, 1914)
  • P. McGuinness, "Maeterlinck and the making of Modern Theatre" (Oxford, 2000)

External links

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