German Gotthelf
Max Frisch French Italian Rumantsch

A Short Biography of Max Frisch

Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt are Switzerland's best known post war authors.

Year Family Education Traveling Architecture Literary Works Prices Honors
1911 Max Frisch is born on May, 15th in Zurich. His mother is Karolina Bettina Frisch, born Wildermuth. His father Franz Bruno Frisch is an architect and real estate broker.  
The family has financial problems most of the time.
Max Frisch attends a mathematical high school in Zurich.
Max Frisch studies German language at the University of Zurich.  
1932 Death of father Franz Bruno Frisch. Max Frisch is forced to abandon his studies because of financial problems. Frisch starts working as a freelancer for Zurich's traditional liberal quality newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
1933 Max Frisch travels to the Balkans and southeastern Europe. He finances his trip by publishing travel reports.
1934   First novel: Jürg Reinhart. Eine sommerliche Schicksalsfahrt
1935 First trip to Germany, where Frisch is being confronted with the racist Nazi ideology.  
Max Frisch studies architecture at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), [Federal Institute of Technology], Zurich and graduates.  
1937   Short story: Antwort aus der Stille. Eine Erzählung aus den Bergen.
1938   Conrad-Ferdinand-Meyer-Preis (literary prize donated by the city of Zurich, named after the famous 19th century writer).
1940 As most Swiss men, Max Frisch serves in the Swiss Army during World War II. Until 1945 his days of military service sum up to 650. Blätter aus dem Brotsack, das Tagebuch eines Soldaten [Papers from the rations' bag, diary of a soldier]
1942 Max Frisch marries Constance von Meyenburg who is also an architect.
He starts his own business as an architect.
Architect Max Frisch wins a contest for the construction of a municipal swimming-pool in Zurich (among 82 competitors).
1943   J'adore ce qui me brûle oder Die Schwierigen.
1945   Bin oder Die Reise nach Peking published.
Nun singen sie wieder. Ein Schauspiel aus der Gegenwart first performed at Zurich's theater.
1946 Trips to Germany and Italy. First performances of Santa Cruz and Die chinesische Mauer.
Architect Frisch earns his living by supervising the contruction of "his" municipal swimming-pool (opens 1949). Tagebuch 1946-1949 [diary], published 1950, documents Frisch encountering German author Bert Brecht at Zurich's theatre where they both direct plays.
1948 Max Frisch travels to Berlin, Prague and Warsaw and attends an internationcal congress of "intellectuals for peace" in Wroclaw (communist Poland). Other participants include Switzerland's most famous architect Le Corbusier, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Swiss theologian Karl Barth and François Bondi.  
1951 Frisch lives in the U.S.A. (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles) thanks to a Rockefeller scholarship. Graf Öderland first performed in Zurich.
1953 Frisch starts a debate on modern architecture and city development. A German radio station broadcasts radio plays Herr Biedermann und die Brandstifter and Rip van Winkle.
1954 Max Frisch separates from his family. Novel: Stiller
1955 Max Frisch quits working as an architect, he is now able to earn his living as a free author. Nevertheless he is still interested in architecture and proposes to construct a completely new city in Switzerland: Achtung: die Schweiz (with co-authors Lucius Burckhardt and Markus Kutter). Schleussner-Schueller-Preis donated by Hessischer Rundfunk [central German radio station] in appreciation of his radio play Der Laie und die Architektur.
1956 Max Frisch participates at the International Design Conference in Aspen (Colorado) and gives a speech entitled Why don't we have the cities we need?. Trip to Mexico.  
1957 Trips to Greece and to Arab countries. Novel: Homo Faber
Love affair with German writer Ingeborg Bachmann.
Divorce of his first marriage (1959).
Lives partly in Rome.
Max Frisch is a jury member in a contest for a new theater in Zurich (1963).
Biedermann und die Brandstifter first performed as a drama in Zurich, Max Frisch's first big success on stage.
Georg-Büchner-Preis (1958, donated by the German Academy for Language and Poetry, Literature-Prize donated by the city of Zurich (1958) and Charles-Veillon-Literaturpreis (1958).
Andorra, a drama about racism, is performed in Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf (1961): Max Frisch's first international success.
Honorary doctor by the Philipps-Universität Marburg (1962).
Mein Name sei Gantenbein (1964)
1965 Max Frisch returns from Rome to Switzerland. He buys a house in Berzona, a little village in southern Switzerland. He also stays in Berlin, Zurich and New York for some time. Man's Freedom-Prize donated by the city of Jerusalem (1965);
1966 Trip to the USSR: Moskow, Leningrad and Odessa as a guest of the Soviet Union's writers' association. Frisch meets Christa and Gerhard Wolf, writers from eastern Germany there.
Death of Max Frisch's mother.
Biografie: ein Spiel is first performed.
1968 Max Frisch (and many other intellectuals) take sides with protesting students in Switzerland. Erinnerungen an Brecht [Remembering Bert Brecht] (1968)
Max Frisch is married to Marianne Oellers, divorced in 1979.  
1975 Max Frisch visits communist China as a member of an official delegation of Western Germany lead by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt including business leaders and representatives of German culture. Montauk, a story with autobiographical fragments about Max Frisch's "love life" is published: his most intimate book.
Trips to Japan (1969) and to the USA (as a guest of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, 1970). Wilhelm Tell für die Schule, an attempt to de-mythologize Switzerland's national hero, is published in 1971.
Tagebuch 1966 - 1971 This political diary, published in 1972, reflects among other things Max Frisch's views on old age, death, democracy and rule of law (triggered by the student's revolt in 1968), as well as his impressions from the visits to the USSR and to the USA.
Dienstbüchlein (1974), a critical review of Max Frisch's experience as a Swiss army soldier in during World War II.
Grosser Schiller-Preis donated by Switzerland's Schiller foundation.
1976   Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels [price donated by German book vendors] in recognition of his "Beharrlichkeit beim Bekämpfen von Machtmißbrauch und ideologischer Demagogie" [perseverance in fighting abuse of power and ideological demagogy].
Edition of "Collected Works"
The Max Frisch archive is installed at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Zurich in 1978 .
Late works: Triptychon. Drei szenische Bilder (published 1978, first performed in Lausanne, 1979); Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (story about old age and loneliness, 1979); Blaubart (1982).
Honorary doctor by Bard College/USA (1980); honorary doctor by the City University of New York (1982)
1991 Max Frisch dies in his flat in Zurich on April, 4th, after suffering from cancer for a long period.  

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