Austrian civil servant, marionettist, and librettist. Joseph von Pauersbach directed the Eszterháza Palace Marionettentheater (Marionettentheater Schloss Eszterháza), in present day Hungary, from 1776 to 1778. Nikolaus I, Prince Eszterházy, bought his puppet theatre in 1772 for 500 ducats and hired Pauersbach as director in 1776.

Pauersbach enriched the theatre’s repertoire by adding to it twelve operas and vaudevilles (light comic plays, often with music) that included Alceste, Dido, Demophon, Genovevens (I to IV), Arlequin als Hausdieb (Harlequin as a House Thief), Hexenschabbes (The Witches’ Sabbath). His work was greatly influenced by travelling theatre groups, among them Karl Wahr’s company, which often performed at the Palace. It was Joseph Haydn, the Eszterházi’s musical director, who wrote the music for most of the puppet operas and comedies (see Opera).

Pauersbach called on other musicians, too. Ignace Pleyel (1757-1831) made the music for La fée Urgèle, ou Ce qui plaît aux dames (The Fairy Urgèle, or What Pleases Women), an opéra-comique composed by Egidio Duni with libretto by Charles-Simon Favart, and translated from the German by Pauersbach who produced it at the Eszterháza Palace in 1776.

(See Austria.)


    • Karl Michael Joseph von Pauersbach (1737-1802). Das Leben und Werk des Begründers und Direktors des Marionettentheaters zu Eszterháza [Karl Michael Joseph von Pauersbach (1737-1802). The Life and Work of the Founder and Director of the Marionette Theatre at Eszterháza]. Beiträge zur Theatergeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts in Jahrbuch für österreichische Kulturgeschichte [Contributions to Theatre History of the 18th Century. Yearbook of Austrian Cultural History]. Vol. 3. Eisenstadt, 1973, pp. 34-78.