||18.9.1935 09.30 a.m.
Dimitri was born in Ascona, Vicolo Ghiriglione (opposite the theatre of puppeteers which later will be his first stage), son of the sculptor and architect Werner Jakob Müller and the handweaver and artisan Maja, born Tschirren.
Birth of his sister Ninon.
His father inherits a small fortune and buys a house, situated north-east of the Monte Verità, built and formerly inhabited by the painter and Bauhaus-architect Otto van Rees. On one end of the garden, the father builds his own atelier.
Due to the closeness of the Teatro San Materno belonging to the dancer Charlotte Bara, Dimitri gets in touch, during his early childhood, with the world of expressionist dance.
Enters the asilo infantile, the Kindergarten of Ascona.
Dimitri enters primary school, scuola elementare, in Ascona.
In the Circus Knie he sees the clown Andreff and realises that being a clown can be a profession. From this moment on he is certain that he wants to become a clown.
He is baptized in an anthroposophic ceremony in the Christian Community of Ascona.
Changes to a small private school, directed by two sisters with anthroposophic principles.
Changes to the German Swiss School in Muralto.
12 years old, in a holiday camp in Morgins, he falls in love for the first time, secretely, with Gunda, who later will become his wife.
Enters Collegio Papio in Ascona. He suffers under the more intellectual oriented teaching of the school, but takes comfort in drawing and painting classes with Benedictine Patres Hugo Sander, known beyond the borders of the country also as the leader of the theatre group of the school. Dimitri is also inspired by the general culture of music and theatre of the college
On the advice of the family doctor Dimitri leaves the collegio and finishes his last compulsery year at the ginnasio maschile, the public grammar-school for boys, in Locarno.
He goes one year to the Rudolf Steiner Schule in Zurich. Discovers his passion for recitation. He lives with his godfather, the most engaged journalist and court-reporter Dr. Fritz Heberlein and his wife Trudy. Heberlein had formerly been condemned and arrested by the Military Court for his involvement with emigrants.
Dimitri's mother offers her son a ring, created after his own wishes by Jenö Salgo, Gunda's father.
Beginning of the apprenticeship as a potter at the atelier of Margrit Linck in Reichenbach/Berne. Dimitri lives with his mother and sister first in Berne, then near Zollikofen. Margrit Linck's husband, the well known sculptor Walter Linck, influences Dimitri's artistic development during his frequent visits at the pottery. In his free time, Dimitri produces his own pottery which his dance and acrobatic teacher Max Lüem sells for him.
Besides his training with Lüem, he also frequents courses in recitation with Mrs. Toni von Tuason and clarinet lessons at the Academy of Music with Willy Tautenhahn. On advice of his former recitation teacher at the Steiner Schule in Zurich, he contacts Ilja Duwan of the Theater am Nydeggstalden with the idea of learning and working there, but the one-sided orientation does not suit him.
He starts playing different comic roles in the student theatre groups of Thomas Nyffeler and Rolf Maeder; at the second one he acts with Harald Szeemann. With his sister Ninon he plays cabaret scenes written by Jakob Flach, the director of the puppeteer theatre in Ascona. In that same period he creates his own “very first” clown acts which he presents in different occasions, i.e. at the Academy of Music, and although never having seen a mime before he also invents his first mime acts.
In the remaining time he frequents the theatres of the town as a spectator, sees the solo cabaret of Harald Szeemann, meets artists like Meret Oppenheim, Otto Nebel and Otto Tschumi, writers like Sergius Golowin and actors as Adolph Spalinger. After a show with Voli Geiler and Walter Morath he tells them that he wants to become a clown. Morath answered: "Yes, you really have the face of Punch, from "Punch & Judy". In a small theatre he sees "Comment attraper les désirs par la queue", the only play written by Pablo Picasso and there, among others, meets Daniel Spoerri.
Still during his stay in Berne he sees for the first time Marcel Marceau - one of the strongest impressions for his future life. Another determinating impression is to see Grock performing in his own circus on the Allmend of Berne.
Second, casual meeting with Gunda in Ascona. Again he falls in love with the young woman, one year his senior, but for the moment without consequences.
He finishes his apprenticeship as a potter with a diploma and leaves for Aix-en-Provence where he finds a job as a pottery wheel thrower for the ceramist Georges Jouve. For Jouve's very individual ceramic Dimitri invents the method of "decentral throwing" which allows to produce new, excentric forms.
As a member of the swimming club he participates in a breast-stroke competition of the whole Provence and finishes second. By bicycle he discovers the region: Avignon, Arles (visits bull-fights) etc.
He accompanies Jouve to Jouve’s exhibition in Paris. At a stop at Château Ratilly, he meets the family Pierlot. Norbert Pierlot was an actor and a ceramist and organized during the summer at his castle, together with his wife Jeannette, courses in ceramics. Dimitri is hired as a teacher for pottery wheel throwing. He meets important and interesting people, such as the composer Maurice Ohana. It is also Pierlot who will later introduce Dimitri to his friend Marcel Marceau.
Dimitri attends, in Paris, his first course with the mime Etienne Decroux (others during the following years), does acrobatic training with Monsieur Bono, a circus artist, studies the guitar with flamenco musicians, takes lessons in harmony, ballet, georgian and basque folkdances, the latter with Irina Grjebina. He gets a role as a clownesque intruder in a dance production at the Palais de Chaillot.
During a short stay in Sweden where he works as a potter, he takes classes with the artistic gymnast Jens Welling, probably the only man who was able to jump a standing summersault on one leg.
Finally Dimitri meets Marcel Marceau in Paris. Marceau immediately invites him to participate in a beginning mime course and after the end of the course he engages him for his company. He takes part in two productions, Les matadors and Le petit cirque, directed by and with the participation of Marceau himself. Together with Marceau who for the preparation of his appearance in La piste aux étoiles wants to learn wire walking, Dimitri takes wire walking lessons with Goga Rosetti.
Rosetti then suggests to create a duo act with Dimitri, finds an engagement with the Cirque Medrano, but one day before the first show Rosetti has to retire for reasons of health.
The clown Maïss who had observed Dimitri during his training, engages him as his partner and they start rehearsing immediately.
Before starting to perform with Maïss, Dimitri goes home for a holiday, in Ticino. In the Casa d'Italia in Locarno he sees The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams under the direction of Raimondo Rezzonico (later president of the Film Festival Locarno). Franco Passatore, one of the actors, proposes to have a play written with Dimitri in the leading role. So, in only three weeks, Passatore's friend Ettore Gaipa writes L'angelo clown. The play, with the direction of Passatore, is performed from March 10 to 22.
On his way back to Paris, on July 14, the first day of his professional engagement as a clown, partner of Maïss (who had been for long years Grock's partner), he learns that this very day Grock had died.
Maïss, Dimitri and Pastis perform first in the Cirque Medrano, then in a small travelling circus, in the North of France. When the circus director ran away with the cash-box, the circus was bankrupt and Dimitri returns to Switzerland.
The association Amici delle belle arti, formerly founded by Dimitri's father, asks the son to perform for the traditional Castagnata. Dimitri composes an evening filling programme, takes an old linen jacket of his father’s, paints his face white and performs the "world première" of his very first solo programme in the Hotel Pergola in Ascona. He also appears at the "ballo dei bambini" in the Dancing Taverna. Fee Fr. 20.--!
Besides he still creates ceramics, together with his father.
In alternation with the puppeteers, with whom he also works, lending his voice to the puppets, he can perform three times a week the first version of his solo programme Porteur in the theatre of puppeteers (in the meantime named Teatro Castello). In the same room, the protestant community holds their Sunday services. In this theatre he also creates a solo programme with French songs and Ticino Folksongs. The meager success puts an end to this experiment after three shows.
His first appearance as a solo clown abroad takes place at the Staatstheater Innsbruck. After that he has performances sceduled in Berne at Thomas Nyffeler's Theater an der Kramgasse 6. The overwhelming success led to three months of performances.
During his three months stay at the Hechtplatz Theater in Zurich he meets Gunda again - this time it was the beginning of a life long love.
Shortly after, Dimitri presents his programme for the first time at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich.
He declines an offer for a tour of Municipal Theatres throughout all the big German cities, because he refuses the condition of having his show directed by an outside director.
Dimitri and Gunda get married at the City Hall in Zurich.
Birth of the first of Gunda and Dimitri's common son, Ivan, in Zurich.
The young family lives in an old rented patrician house in Golino/Ticino.
At the Akademie der Künste in Berlin takes place the 1st International Mime Festival. Dimitri is the only clown to perform there. He earns such an overwhelming success that at once other performances are organized in the Theater des Westens and in the Titania-Palast.
At the same festival he also meets the mime Richard Weber, member of the Divadlo Na Zábradlí in Prague, with whom he later will found the theatre school in Verscio.
The flamenco dancer Susana gives him the Book The secret transmission of Nô, recorded by Master Zeami, written by Zeami Motokiyo, which strongly influenced his artistic work.
He visits the studio of the expressionist dancer Mary Wigman.
Gunda and Dimitri buy a small flat in Paris where Dimitri during the following years will perform in the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier, the Théâtre de la Ville, at the Carré Sylvia Montfort, the Gaîté Montparnasse, the Palais des Glaces and in the Théâtre Trois Baudets.
Birth of their son David in Zurich.
Birth of the first daughter, Masha.
In Paris, Dimitri and Gunda celebrate their marriage according to the ceremony of the anthroposophic Christian Community.
The family buys the estate Cadanza with three dwelling-houses, in the upper part of the Centovalli. Here Dimitri installs also his working studio and finds room for his collections: elephants, masks, musical instruments, books on clowning, pantomime and theatre, which from 2000 on are partly exposed to the public in the Museo Comico in Verscio, curated by Harald Szeemann.
In the garden of Cadanza numerous partys are held with friends like Max Frisch, Günter Grass and Walter Höllerer.
Dimitri sings Ticino Folksongs in the local "osterie", together with Roberto Maggini. Their first public appearance takes place in 1972 in the theatre in Verscio. Immediately offers come in for tours throughout Switzerland and three LP productions (Claves-Verlag 1982 and EMI 1984).
Daughter Nina was born.
Fredy Knie senior invites Dimitri to go on tour with Circus Knie. Dimitri accepts and starts preparing his new acts and above all, rehearsing with the female elephant Sandry.
The tour with Circus Knie starts in March and also starts family life in the trailer. Dimitri is the first clown to come from theatre to the circus successfully - and not least because of the solid confidence of Fredy Knie. Many prominent personalities come to see the show and meet Dimitri afterwards in the reception-trailer, such as Peter Ustinov, Carl Zuckmayer and Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Jean Tinguely, after having seen Dimitri performing, sends him one of his drawn letters and proposes to create a circus act together with one of his famous moving sculptures. First encounter with Charlie Chaplin in Vevey, later with François Billetdoux in Paris and Eugène Ionesco in St. Gallen.
The first book on Dimitri appears in the Benteli Verlag, Berne: Clown Dimitri - Ich. This is the beginning of a friendship with the painter and editor Ted Scapa who also encourages Dimitri to go on and develop his talent in painting.
Dimitri and Gunda found the Teatro Dimitri in Verscio/Ticino, with a capacity of 90 seats. Now, not only Dimitri can perform on his own stage, but also guest artists can be invited: Avant et Perdu (later known as Mummenschanz), the filmmaker Fredi Murer, the songwriter Mani Matter, the Stalder Quintett, the Spanish singer Carmela, the songwriter Hans Peter Treichler and the singer, actor Gianni Esposito.
Tours throughout Europe.
Second tour through Switzerland with the Circus Knie, the cow Belinda, a potbelly pig a donkey - and Dimitri’s four children.
Gunda, at the same time, is directing the theatre in Verscio.
Publication of the book Dimitri Album by Benteli Verlag (2nd edition 1979).
First stay in the USA, as a guest at the 1st International Mime Festival in La Crosse, Wisconsin. After a successful show Dimitri meets his future agent for the USA, Larry Berle.
First of ten USA-tours through all big cities of the continent.
On September 22 Dimitri founds, together with Richard Weber, Gunda Dimitri, Fredy Chy, Denis Carey, Daisy Lumini and Beppe Chierici the Scuola Teatro Dimitri in Verscio. The first class starts with 45 students! Dimitri himself teaches improvisation and clowning.
Commissioned by the Berliner Festwochen on the subject Circus, Dimitri creates the piece Il Clown è morto, evviva il Clown! To realize the play on stage he founds the Compagnia Teatro Dimitri with outgoing students of his school and also directs the production. They celebrate the première on July 6 in Verscio, in October follows Berlin, then a successful tour through Germany and Switzerland and finally a long "en suite" engagement at the Basler Theater.
Subsequently, Dimitri creates other pieces for the Compagnia (book, direction, costumes): Il drago mangiafragole (1980), Via i gatt balan i ratt (1981), Ma non fate stupidate (1984), L'uccello variopinto (1988), Mozart (Dimitri in the double part Mozart/Arlecchino, 1989), La Maga (1991), La regina dei magnani (1992), Mascarada (1994), Coltello nel cabaret (1995), Il gong magico (1997), La morte del cigno (1999), Pamfalon (2000), 1 Apple (2001) and L'umofante (2005).
Dimitri creates his new solo programme Teatro. During a rehearsal he falls from the wire and breaks his arm. A long tour must be cancelled.
For the third time he goes on tour with Circus Knie.
Edition Pierre Marcel Favre, Lausanne, publishes the book Dimitri Clown, written by Patrick Ferla (German edition 1980 at Werner Classen Verlag, Zurich).
At the Benteli Verlag appears Schlaufenclown, with short stories and designs by Dimitri.
The Fondazione Dimitri is founded with the purpose to support the school and the theatre in Verscio.
Performances and tours throughout Europe.
First of many tours through England, beginning at the Bernard Shaw Theatre in London.
Inauguration of the new theatre in Verscio, with 200 seats.
Dimitri performs in Hongkong.
Dimitri performs in the Big Apple Circus in New York City, where also his son David is performing.
Tour through Spain and later in the year in Argentina (Buenos Aires) and Mexico.
Gunda and Dimitri, together with a delegation of Swiss artists, travel to the Chinese sistertown of Zurich, Kunming, and to other cities of the Popular Republic of China.
From this year on, Dimitri is directing every year the Variété-Varietà in Verscio, with students of the Scuola Teatro Dimitri.
Tour of six Chinese towns, assisted by his daughter Masha.
At the Benteli Verlag appears the book Theater und Schule Dimitri (1988 in Italian).
Dimitri plays the part of the Devil in Histoire du soldat by C.F. Ramuz and Igor Stravinsky. He tears his Achilles tendon and, after having been operated, plays with a "clubfoot".
Death of his father.
First tour through Australia.
Dimitri creates his new solo programme Ritratto, under the direction of Alessandro Marchetti.
The Mime and Clown Festival in Tokyo in August marks the beginning of a close contact with Japan which leads to seven tours, one every two years.
At the Luzerner Musikfestwochen, with the Festival Strings conducted by Rudolf Baumgartner, Dimitri plays the part of the clown in Aphoriphone und Intermezzi für Streicher und einen Clown by Peter Wettstein.
Taken from an idea of pantomime by W.A. Mozart, Dimitri creates for the Compagnia Teatro Dimitri the play Mozart and plays himself the double part Mozart/Arlecchino.
In the movie Anna Göldin - letzte Hexe by Gertrud Pinkus he plays the locksmith, a friend of Anna Göldin.
He starts to write a script for a movie of his own, Capostazione Molinari, which for failed financing finally would not be realized.
For the Tandem tinta blù he directs Der Narrenlehrling, written by Joe Sebastian Fenner und Cornelia Montani.
First exhibition of his paintings in Aarau, Galerie 6. Many others follow, for example in Berne, Geneva, Ascona, Tokyo, Vienna etc.
Dimitri directs at the Bremer Theater La finta giardiniera by W.A. Mozart and creates also the scenery and the costumes.
First extended tour through South America (Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela).
Tour through Greece.
The Atlantis children's book Mein Humofant by Dimitri is published at Pro Juventute-Verlag, Zurich, in German, 1996 in a Japanese edition.
Commissioned by the Luzerner Musikfestwochen Dimitri creates L'homme orchestre. The world première of the original composition of André Desponds and Oliviero Giovannoni is played by the Winterthurer Stadtorchester and conducted by Dimitri as a clownesque leader.
Goetheanum Verlag, Dornach publishes the book Dimitri. Humor - Gespräche über die Komik, das Lachen und den Narren, written by Corina Lanfranchi (3rd edition 2000).
Direction, scenery and costumes to Les bandits by Jacques Offenbach at the Wiener Kammeroper.
Pietro Bellasi and Danielle Londei publish at Danilo Montanari Edizioni, Ravenna, the book Dimitri Clown o L'oro dei clown.
Direction, costumes and posters for the Marianus Eurhythmie Ensemble Bern in Der Königsgaukler by Manfred Kyber.
Directs La revue burlesque for the Basler Schlagzeugtrio.
As an ambassador of UNICEF Dimitri visits the war damaged town of Sarajewo and performs there.
Death of his mother.
Directs the first solo show for his daughter Masha, Sala di prova.
Dimitri writes a first Circus Tale as a storyline for the programme of Circus Monti. Others follow in 2001 and 2004. He also signs for direction, costumes and posters.
Directs Circus Factory, an artistic theatre piece for his son David.
Inauguration of the Museo Comico in Verscio, curated by Harald Szeemann.
Dimitri directs Nino Rota's La lezione di guida, conducted by Maestro Graziano Mandozzi.
Direction for his daughter Masha and Kai Leclerc in the play Upside Down.
Masha creates under her father's direction her story-telling programme Le fil rouge.
In Lucerne Dimitri directs Thüring Bräm's opera Il gong magico, for which, together with Bernard Stöckli and Markus Kunz he also wrote the libretto. The opera is conducted by Jost Meier. The world première takes place at the Casino-Theater Zug.
He develops for his daughter Nina the concept to her song programme La cantante delle piazze.
Benteli Verlag publishes Dimitri. Der Clown in mir. Autobiographie mit fremder Feder, written by Hanspeter Gschwend (3rd edition 2005).
Le clown et les étoiles - Exhibition about Dimitri at the Musée Alexis Forel, Morges: paintings, costumes, posters, objects of his collections etc.
The French translation of his autobiography Dimitri. Le clown en moi is published by Editions d'en bas, Lausanne, and the Italian one Dimitri. Il clown in me at Rezzonico Editore SA, Locarno.
The Scuola Teatro Dimitri is now recognized as a theatrical College focused primarily on theatre movement and theatrical creation.
T & C Film produces the 85 minutes cinema-documentary Dimitri - Clown, under the direction of Friedrich Kappeler.
Continuation of the exhibition Il clown e le stelle in a fuller version at the Casorella, Locarno.
Dimitri plays Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett in a clownesque version, directed by Thomas Hostettler.
Tipografia Poncioni realizes Clown Fantasy, a book with 366 paintings by Dimitri.
Jubilee-Gala at the Schauspielhaus Zurich: 70 years Dimitri, 35 years Teatro Dimitri, 30 years Scuola Teatro Dimitri, 5 years Museo Comico.
The municipality made Dimitri honorary citizen of Verscio.
a dream becomes reality: together with his daughters Masha and Nina, his son David and his son-in-law Kai Leclerc he creates and presents the burlesque show La Famiglia Dimitri.
Clown in the jubilee-concert 50 years Festivalstrings Lucerne.
Carte blanche at the major orchestra festival for the “125 Years of the Berliner Philharmoniker” anniversary celebration. Various performances throughout the jubilee event.
Big success with La Famiglia Dimitri on Broadway New York.
The Fondazione Dimitri acquires the property with an old ticino building neighbouring the Teatro Dimitri which will be transformed in a near future to Casa del Clown and Parco del Clown.
Revival of Histoire du soldat in coproduction with the Grand Théâtre de Genève.
Recieves the SwissAward in the section Culture.
Trip to Congo with the World Organisation Against Torture and for the respect of Human Rights
Publication of the book Dimitri, ein Gesamtkunstwerk by Hanspeter Gschwend and Adriano Heitmann at Benteli Verlag Bern.
Inauguration of the Parco del Clown on the occasion of the festivities for Dimitri’s 75th birthday, in presence of Ueli Maurer, member of the Executive Federal Council.
The new solo programme Highlights combines acts from the three earlier programmes Porteur, Teatro and Ritratto with new ideas and surprising elements.
Plays Frosch in the operetta The Bat at Grand Théatre de Genève.
At the SwissAward gala night Dimitri recieves the Lifetime Award. Laudatio: Member of the Federal Council Doris Leuthard.
First performance with the new family project DimiTRIgenerations in the KKL Lucerne, followed by over 60 other shows in sold out halls and theatres.
From 18th to 20th September Dimitri celebrates his 80th Birthday in Verscio, with a colourful party, together with the population, the students of his school and his family.
Sogni di un’altra vita: The open-air theatre tells the story of Monte Verità, based on a text from Hanspeter Gschwend. Dimitri plays the role of Karl Vester. The première takes place on 16th July.
On 18th July in the sold out Teatro Dimitri, together with his family, he presents DimiTRIgenerations.
In the evening of 19th July, after feeling slightly sick, he passed away, 80 years old.
Dimitri passed away 80 years old in his home, after feeling slightly sick.