The Burgtheater ( en: (Imperial) Court Theatre), originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world. The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as "die Burg" by the Viennese population; its theater company of more or less regular members has created a traditional style and speech typical of Burgtheater performances.

It was created on 14 March 1741 by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to be a theatre next to her palace, and her son, Emperor Joseph II called it the "German National Theatre" in 1776. Three Mozart operas premiered there: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), Le nozze di Figaro (1786) and Così fan tutte (1790). Beginning in 1794, the theatre was called the "K.K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg". Beethoven's 1st Symphony premiered there on April 2, 1800. The theatre was moved to a new building at the Ringstraße on 14 October 1888 designed by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer. In 1943, under Nazi rule, a notoriously extreme production of The Merchant of Venice was staged at the Burgtheater - with Werner Krauss as Shylock, one of several theater and film roles by this actor pandering to antisemitic stereotypes. On March 12, 1945 the Burgtheater was largely destroyed in a bombing raid, and, one month later, on April 12, 1945, the Burgtheater was further damaged by a fire of unknown origin. After the war, the theatre was restored between 1953-1955. The classic Burgtheater style and the Burgtheater-German language were trend-setting for German language theaters.

Directors of the Burgtheater
Before 1776 the theatre had been leased from the state by Johann Koháry. The tenant of the theatre Johann Koháry came into financial difficulties in 1773, he got in 1773 Joseph Keglevich as a curator to his side, the director of the theatre Wenzel Sporck, who was the great nephew of Franz Anton Sporck, who had brought the french horn and Antonio Vivaldi to Prague, got a committee for financing under the chairman Franz Keglevich as his assistance in 1773 and Karl Keglevich became the director of the Theater am Kärntnertor in 1773 to have comparative figures. The curator Joseph Keglevich declared the bankruptcy of the theatre in 1776 and the state under Joseph II took over the theatre again in 1776. The director of the theatre Wenzel Sporck and the chairman of the committee for financing the theatre Franz Keglevich were released of their duties in 1776 and the University of Trnava, which rector was Alexander Keglevich in the year 1770/71, got the permission to move into the Buda Castle. Until 1776 the theatre had been financed de facto, but not de jure, by the University of Trnava of the Society of Jesus, which were suppressed by the order of Pope Clement XIV in 1773, therefore it is difficult to determine who the actual director was and therefore the suspicion that the same surnames were no coincidence, however, did not constitute a kinship, but a financial intelligence for purchased exams and for identifying of high-risk housing tenants. Francis II decided on 4th July 1792 to let out the theatre to lease again, but it was not possible to find any tenant, therefore it was not permitted to the directors of the Burgtheater as state employees to bow to the audience, because their performance was not over, because there was no new tenant. The benchmark for the directors became the finances of the house. Finally, Ferdinánd Pálffy became the tenant 1794-1817, his finances had come from the mining institute in Banská Å tiavnica the first technical university in the world.

The theater and its actors
The Burgtheater remained a strongly traditional stage with a distinct culture until the late 1960s. From the early 1970s on, it became a venue for some of Europe's most important stage director and designers. With many debut performances of plays written by Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke, Peter Turrini and George Tabori, Claus Peymann managed to affirm the Burgtheater's reputation as one of Europe's foremost stages. Among the best known actors in the ensemble of about 120 members are: Sven-Eric Bechtolf, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Kirsten Dene, Andrea Clausen, Bruno Ganz, Karlheinz Hackl, Robert Meyer, Gertraud Jesserer, Ignaz Kirchner, Jutta Lampe, Susanne Lothar, Michael Maertens, Tamara Metelka, Birgit Minichmayr, Nicholas Ofczarek, Hedwig Pistorius, Elisabeth Orth, Martin Schwab, Peter Simonischek, Ulrich Tukur, Franz Tscherne, Gert Voss, Gusti Wolf, and Heinz Zuber. Some famous former members of the ensemble were Max Devrient, Josef Kainz, Josef Lewinsky, Joseph Schreyvogel, Adolf von Sonnenthal, Charlotte Wolter, Ludwig Gabillon, Zerline Gabillon, Attila Hörbiger, Paula Wessely, Curd Jürgens, O. W. Fischer, Paul Hörbiger, Peter Weck, Fritz Muliar, and Christoph Waltz. Particularly deserving artists may be designated honorable members. Their names are engraved in marble at the bottom end of the ceremonial stairs at the side of the theater facing the Volksgarten. Members of honor are: Annemarie Düringer, Wolfgang Gasser, Heinrich Schweiger, Gusti Wolf, and Michael Heltau. The Burgtheater has seen productions staged by directors like Otto Schenk, Peter Hall, Giorgio Strehler, Luca Ronconi, Hans Neuenfels, Terry Hands, Jonathan Miller, Peter Zadek, Paulus Manker, Luc Bondy, Christoph Schlingensief, and Thomas Vinterberg. Among the staged and costume designers were Fritz Wotruba, Luciano Damiani, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Ezio Frigerio, Franca Squarciapino, Josef Svoboda, Anselm Kiefer, Moidele Bickel, and Milena Canonero.

Name Start End Joint direction by 15-22 senior members ( Künstlerrepublik) 1776 1789 Franz Carl Hieronymus Brockmann 1790 1790 Direction by 5 senior members ( Regiekollegium) 1790 1794 Peter von Braun 1794 1806 Direction by a group of senior courtiers (initially 8) ( Kavaliersdirektion) 1807 1817 Joseph Schreyvogel 1814 1832 Johann Ludwig Deinhardstein 1832 1841 Franz Ignaz von Holbein 1841 1849 Heinrich Laube 1849 1867 Friedrich Halm (pseudonym of Eligius Freiherr von Münch-Bellinghausen) 1867 1868 August Wolff 1868 1870 Franz Freiherr von Dingelstedt 1870 1881 Adolf von Wilbrandt 1881 1887 Adolf von Sonnenthal 1887 1888 August Förster 1888 1889 Adolf von Sonnenthal 1889 1890 Max Burckhard 1890 1898 Paul Schlenther 1898 1910 Alfred Freiherr von Berger 1910 1912 Hugo Thimig 1912 1917 Max von Millenkovich 1917 1918 Joint direction by Hermann Bahr, Max Devrient and Robert Michel ( Dreierkollegium) 1918 1918 Albert Heine 1918 1921 Anton Wildgans 1921 1922 Max Paulsen 1922 1923 Franz Herterich 1923 1930 Anton Wildgans 1930 1931 Hermann Röbbeling 1932 1938 Mirko Jelusich 1938 1938 Ulrich Bettac 1938 1939 Lothar Müthel 1939 1945 Raoul Aslan 1945 1948 Erhard Buschbeck 1948 1948 Josef Gielen 1948 1954 Adolf Rott 1954 1959 Ernst Haeusserman 1959 1968 Paul Hoffmann 1968 1971 Gerhard Klingenberg 1971 1976 Achim Benning 1976 1986 Claus Peymann 1986 1999 Klaus Bachler 1999 2009 Matthias Hartmann 2009