“That, Too, Was Vienna” – Director Wolfgang Glück Turns Eighty

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (11/19/2009)

His film, “38” – That, Too, Was Vienna” was nominated in 1987 for an Oscar – One of Europe’s busiest directors over the past fifty years celebrates his birthday.

Vienna – Wolfgang Glück, with over 100 productions and 80 lengthy- and over 400 short television plays in Germany and Austria, is considered one of Europe’s busiest directors over the past fifty years. On September 25 the Austrian film producer celebrated his 80th birthday. He acquired his international reputation primarily by filming literature pieces from which Torberg’s adaptation of “Student Gerber” stood out. However, the highlight of his career as a director was his highly recognized “38 – That, Too, Was Vienna,” which earned him the nomination in 1987 for an Oscar for best foreign film. 

Wolfgang Glück was born in Vienna in 1929 into an upper middle class family. The father was a publisher and writer and belonged to the intellectual circle surrounding Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos. He remained in Vienna during the war but was unemployed “due to his Jewish background.” After having graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium, Glück studied Drama and German Studies in Zürich and Vienna. Between 1948 and 1953 he worked as an assistant at Vienna’s Burgtheater with, among others, Berthold Viertel, who soon became a fatherly friend, Oscar Fritz Schuh, Josef Gielen, Ernst Lotaht, Curt Jürgens and Walter Felsenstein. He gathered a significant amount of experience also by working with Fritz Kortner in München. Moreover, he finished his qualifying exam to become an actor.

Following his first work as director, “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1953) at Vienna’s Kellertheater at the Parkring, he received many more offers. At the same time he worked as a radio director with the American station Rotweißrot and as assistant director of film. In 1957 he became the director of the newly-established Austrian television while at the same time directing feature films for the first time.

After the 1960s Glück turned more and more to literature, mainly Austrian, including television pieces by Peter Handke, Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Henisch, Ingeborg Bachmann and H.C. Artmann, among others. At the same time he worked also for the theaters of Berlin, Hamburg, Dortmund, Frankfurt and from 1969 to 1975 for Vienna’s Burgtheater. In addition, he began at the end of the 1960s staging operas for the Salzburg and Bregenz festivals.

In 1981 Wolfgang Glück succeeded with Friedrich Torberg’s filming of “Student Gerber” with Gabriel Barylli as main actor. Six years later he celebrated his greatest success with material taken from Torberg, “38 – That, Too, Was Vienna” about the love relationship of an actress (Sunnyi Melles) with a Jewish writer (Tobias Engel), which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film in 1987. In 1989 he was accepted into the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” in Los Angeles, which determines who receives an Oscar from year to year.

From 1971 to 2003 Glück was a lecturer at the Institute of Drama with the University of Vienna. After 1994 he worked also with Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts, and headed the University’s film academy from 1997 to 2001.

Glück lives in Vienna and, following his first marriage with Christiane Hörbiger, has been married with the actress Claudia Sorbas since 1972 and is the father of two daughters. As director, he was awarded the Adolf-Grimme Prize for “Speaking and Let Speak” (1975), the German Federal Film Prize for “Student Gerber” as well as State Prizes for his advertising film. In 2004 he received the “Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the City of Vienna.” In 2006, the Year of Mozart’s Anniversary, he produced together with twenty- eight other film makers one minute film clips entitled,“Mozart Minutes.”