Abel Seyler (23 August 1730, Liestal – 25 April 1801, Rellingen) was a Swiss-born theatre director and former banker, who was regarded as one of the great theatre principals of 18th century Europe. He was "the leading patron of German theatre" in his lifetime, and is credited with introducing Shakespeare to a German language audience, and with promoting the concept of a national theatre in the tradition of Ludvig Holberg, the Sturm und Drang playwrights, and German opera.

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dbo:abstract
  • Abel Seyler (23 August 1730, Liestal – 25 April 1801, Rellingen) was a Swiss-born banker, who later became one of the great theatre principals of 18th century Europe. He was "the leading patron of German theatre" in his lifetime, and is credited with introducing Shakespeare to a German language audience, and with promoting the concept of a national theatre in the tradition of Ludvig Holberg, the Sturm und Drang playwrights, and German opera. Already in his lifetime, he was described as "one of German art's most meritorious men."The son of a Basel calvinist priest and descended from many of the city's leading patrician families, Seyler came to Northern Germany where he became a wealthy merchant and banker in Hamburg, who achieved notoriety for his speculation with financial instruments. After speculating heavily on currency debasement during the Seven Years' War in close association with his business partner Heinrich Carl von Schimmelmann, his companies went spectacularly bankrupt with enormous debts, but he nevertheless retained a portion of his fortune. His great passion was the theatre, and he used his remaining funds to finance and effectively head the Hamburgische Entreprise—also known as the Hamburg National Theatre—employing Lessing as the world's first dramaturg. In 1769, he founded the Seyler Theatre Company, which became one of the most famous theatre companies of Europe during the period 1769–79 and regarded as "the best theatre company in Germany at that time." He commissioned works such as Sturm und Drang by Klinger (which gave its name to the era), Ariadne auf Naxos by Benda and Alceste by Schweitzer, considered "the first serious German opera." Seyler became a freemason in London in 1753 and was a central figure in German freemasonry until his death.In his first marriage to Sophie Elisabeth Andreae, Seyler had three children, the pharmacist and scholar Abel Seyler the Younger, who was a member of the Illuminati, the Hamburg banker L.E. Seyler, the senior partner of Berenberg Bank for half a century, who married into the Hanseatic Berenberg/Gossler banking dynasty, and Sophie Seyler, who married the Sturm und Drang poet Johann Anton Leisewitz, the author of Julius of Tarent. His children were raised by his brother in law, the noted natural scientist J.G.R. Andreae. In his second marriage, Abel Seyler was married to Friederike Sophie Seyler, Germany's leading actress of the second half of the 18th century and the author of the opera Oberon, which inspired The Magic Flute. The principal founder of biochemistry and molecular biology Felix Hoppe-Seyler was an adopted son of his grandson. Abel Seyler was named for his great-grandfather, the Basel politician Abel Socin, who belonged to the Italian noble Socin family. He lived out his days on the Rellingen estate of his long-time friend and fellow prominent freemason, the renowned actor Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, where he is interred. (en)
  • Abel Seyler (23 August 1730, Liestal – 25 April 1801, Rellingen) was a Swiss-born theatre director and former banker, who was regarded as one of the great theatre principals of 18th century Europe. He was "the leading patron of German theatre" in his lifetime, and is credited with introducing Shakespeare to a German language audience, and with promoting the concept of a national theatre in the tradition of Ludvig Holberg, the Sturm und Drang playwrights, and German opera. Already in his lifetime, he was described as "one of German art's most meritorious men."The son of a Basel calvinist priest, Seyler came to Northern Germany where he became a wealthy merchant and banker in Hamburg, who achieved notoriety for his speculation with financial instruments and for his flamboyant personality. After speculating heavily on currency debasement during the Seven Years' War in close association with his business partner Heinrich Carl von Schimmelmann, his companies went spectacularly bankrupt with enormous debts, but he nevertheless retained a portion of his fortune. His great passion was the theatre, and he used his remaining funds to finance and effectively head the Hamburgische Entreprise—also known as the Hamburg National Theatre—employing Lessing as the world's first dramaturg. In 1769, he founded the Seyler Theatre Company, which became one of the most famous theatre companies of Europe during the period 1769–79 and regarded as "the best theatre company in Germany at that time." He commissioned works such as Sturm und Drang by Klinger (which gave its name to the era), Ariadne auf Naxos by Benda and Alceste by Schweitzer, considered "the first serious German opera." Seyler mostly focused on the artistic, economic and administrative management of his theatrical company; his own lack of a background as an actor, and his former profession as a banker, made him stand out among the theatre principals of his era.Seyler became a freemason in London in 1753 and was a central figure in German freemasonry until his death. In his first marriage to Sophie Elisabeth Andreae, Seyler had three children, the pharmacist and scholar Abel Seyler the Younger, who was a member of the Illuminati, the Hamburg banker L.E. Seyler, the senior partner of Berenberg Bank for half a century, who married into the Hanseatic Berenberg/Gossler banking dynasty, and Sophie Seyler, who married the Sturm und Drang poet Johann Anton Leisewitz, the author of Julius of Tarent. His children were raised by his brother in law, the noted natural scientist J.G.R. Andreae. In his second marriage, Abel Seyler was married to Friederike Sophie Seyler, Germany's leading actress of the second half of the 18th century and the author of the opera Oberon, which inspired The Magic Flute. The principal founder of biochemistry and molecular biology Felix Hoppe-Seyler was an adopted son of his grandson. Abel Seyler was named for his great-grandfather, the Basel politician Abel Socin, who belonged to the Italian noble Socin family. He lived out his days on the Rellingen estate of his long-time friend and fellow prominent freemason, the renowned actor Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, where he is interred. (en)
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  • A silhouette of Abel Seyler (en)
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  • Abel Seyler (23 August 1730, Liestal – 25 April 1801, Rellingen) was a Swiss-born theatre director and former banker, who was regarded as one of the great theatre principals of 18th century Europe. He was "the leading patron of German theatre" in his lifetime, and is credited with introducing Shakespeare to a German language audience, and with promoting the concept of a national theatre in the tradition of Ludvig Holberg, the Sturm und Drang playwrights, and German opera. (en)
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