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Born in Vienna in 1903, Herbert Graf was the son of Max Graf (1873-1958), an eminent Austrian-Jewish author, critic, and musicologist. At the age of five Herbert became a patient of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who identified him in his writings as "Little Hans". Herbert was the subject of an early but extensive study of castration anxiety and the Oedipal complex by Freud. His neurosis took the shape of a crippling phobia of horses, a theme exploited in the year of Graf's death by the British dramatist Peter Shaffer in his famous play Equus.
Freud wrote a summary of his treatment of "Little Hans", in 1909, in a paper entitled Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy. This was one of just a few case studies which Freud published. Herbert became fearful of going out into the street, with his fear focused on horses and heavily loaded vehicles, which he was afraid would fall over. Freud saw Herbert only once, and carried out most of the treatment through the father, by gathering information from him and providing him with ideas as to what he could say and do to improve the situation. The information gathered from the father included reports of Herbert's dreams, his behavior, and his answers to the father's questions. Freud had recently written a book about the development of infantile sexuality, and he believed that what he learned from Herbert's situation backed up his theory. Herbert's fear was thought to be the result of several factors, including the birth of a little sister, his desire to replace his father as his mothers' sexual mate, emotional conflicts over masturbation, and others. The anxiety was seen as stemming from the incomplete repression and other defense mechanisms being used to combat the impulses involved in his sexual development. Herbert's behavior and emotional state improved after he was provided with sexual information by his father, and the two became closer.
In 1922, Freud wrote a short postscript to the case study, in which he reported that "Little Hans" had appeared in his office as a "strapping youth of nineteen", who "was perfectly well, and suffered from no troubles or inhibitions".
In 1936, after holding operatic posts in Münster, Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Frankfurt and Salzburg, the 33-year-old Herbert Graf emigrated to the United States, where he became a successful and popular opera producer at New York's Metropolitan Opera (1936-1960). Graf had a strong sense of tradition and encouraged young operatic talent. In the late 1950s he returned to Europe, where he produced opera at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, (1958-1959). After another year in New York, Graf settled in Switzerland, working at the Zurich Opera House (1960-1963), and Geneva's Grand Théâtre (1965-1973).
Among the books published by Herbert Graf were The Opera and its Future in America (New York, W. W. Norton, 1941), Opera for the People (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1951), and Producing Opera for America (Zurich and New York, Atlantis Books, 1961).
See also Edit
- The Oxford Dictionary of Opera
- Mozart: Don Giovanni (Grümmer, della Casa, Berger, Dermota, Siepi, Edelmann; Furtwängler, 1954) [live] VAI
- Verdi: Aïda (Gencer, Cossotto, Bergonzi, Colzani, Giaiotti; Capuana, 1966) [live] Bel Canto Society
- Strauss: Elektra (Nilsson, Rysanek, M.Dunn, Nagy, McIntyre; Levine, 1980) [live] Paramount
- fr:Petit Hans
- pl:Mały Hans