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Christian Friedrich Hebbel
Portrait (1851) by Carl Rahl
|Born||18 March 1813|
Wesselburen, Dithmarschen, Holstein
|Died||13 December 1863 (aged 50)|
Vienna, Austrian Empire
|Occupation||poet and dramatist|
|Notable awards||Schiller Prize|
Christian Friedrich Hebbel (18 March 1813 – 13 December 1863) was a German poet and dramatist.
Hebbel was born at Wesselburen in Dithmarschen, Holstein, the son of a bricklayer. He was educated at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums , a grammar school in Hamburg, Germany. Despite his humble origins, he showed a talent for poetry,resulting in the publication in the Hamburg Modezeitung, of verses which he had sent to Amalie Schoppe (1791–1858), a popular journalist and author of nursery tales. Through her patronage, he was able to go to the University of Hamburg.
A year later he went to Heidelberg University to study law, but gave it up and went on to the University of Munich, where he devoted himself to philosophy, history and literature. In 1839, Hebbel left Munich and walked all the way back to Hamburg, where he resumed his friendship with Elise Lensing, whose self-sacrificing assistance had helped him over the darkest days in Munich. In the same year he wrote his first tragedy, Judith (1840, published 1841), which in the following year was performed in Hamburg and Berlin and made his name known throughout Germany.
In 1840, he wrote the tragedy Genoveva, and the following year finished a comedy, Der Diamant, which he had begun at Munich. In 1842 he visited Copenhagen, where he obtained from King Christian VIII a small travelling studentship, which enabled him to spend some time in Paris and two years (1844–1846) in Italy. In Paris he wrote his fine "tragedy of common life", Maria Magdalena(1844). On his return from Italy Hebbel met in Vienna two Polish noblemen, the brothers Zerboni di Sposetti, who in their enthusiasm for his genius urged him to remain, and supplied him with the means to mingle in the best intellectual society of the Austrian capital.
Hebbel's old precarious existence now became a horror to him, and he made a deliberate breach with it by marrying (in 1846) the beautiful and wealthy actress Christine Enghaus, giving up Elise Lensing (who remained faithful to him until her death), on the grounds that "a man's first duty is to the most powerful force within him, that which alone can give him happiness and be of service to the world": in his case the poetical faculty, which would have perished "in the miserable struggle for existence". This "deadly sin," which, "if peace of conscience be the test of action," was, he considered, the best act of his life, established his fortunes. Elise, however, still provided useful inspiration for his art. As late as 1851, shortly after her death, he wrote the little epic Mutter und Kind, intended to show that the relation of parent and child is the essential factor which makes the quality of happiness among all classes and under all conditions equal.
Long before this Hebbel had become famous, German sovereigns bestowed decorations upon him; in foreign capitals he was feted as the greatest of living German dramatists. From the grand-duke of Saxe-Weimar he received a flattering invitation to take up his residence at Weimar, where several of his plays were first performed. He remained, however, at Vienna until his death.
Besides the works already mentioned, Hebbel's principal tragedies are:
Of his comedies Der Diamant (1847), Der Rubin (1850) and the tragi-comedy Ein Trauerspiel in Sizilien (1845), are the more important, but they are heavy and hardly rise above mediocrity. All his dramatic productions, however, exhibit skill in characterization, great glow of passion, and a true feeling for dramatic situation; but their poetic effect is frequently marred by extravagances which border on the grotesque, and by the introduction of incidents the unpleasant character of which is not sufficiently relieved. In many of his lyric poems, and especially in Mutter und Kind, published in 1859, Hebbel showed that his poetic gifts were not restricted to the drama.
Hebbel's short stories are often wry and witty observations of society. His well-known story "The master tailor Nepomuk Schlägel in the search for joy" has been published in English.
His collected works were first published by E. Kuh in 12 volumes at Hamburg, 1866–1868.
Some of Hebbel's works were set to music, such as his poem Requiem by Peter Cornelius and in Max Reger's Hebbel Requiem . Reger set his poem "Die Weihe der Nacht" for voice, choir and orchestra. Robert Schumann's opera Genoveva is based on a play of Hebbel.
In 1872 Samuel de Lange used Hebbel's poem "Ein frühes Liebesleben" in an unusual instrumentation for voice, string quartet and harp. An arrangement with piano instead of harp was made during a centennial revival of Samuel and Daniël de Lange's music.
Eduard Lassen wrote incidental music to Die Nibelungen in 1873. In 1878/79 Franz Liszt combined music from the Die Nibelungen setting with excerpts from Lassen's incidental music to Goethe's Faust , in a single piano transcription, Aus der Musik zu Hebbels Nibelungen und Goethes Faust (S.496).
In 1922 Emil von Reznicek composed an opera Holofernes after Hebbel's Judith und Holofernes.
The poem "Dem Schmerz sein Recht" was set to music by Alban Berg in 4 Gesänge, Op. 2, No 1.
Matthias Claudius was a German poet and journalist, otherwise known by the pen name of “Asmus”.
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem written around 1200 in Middle High German. Its anonymous poet was likely from the region of Passau. The Nibelungenlied is based on an oral tradition that has some of its origin in historic events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries and that spread throughout almost all of Germanic-speaking Europe. Parallels to the German poem from Scandinavia are found especially in the heroic lays of the Poetic Edda and in the Völsunga saga.
Friedrich Rückert was a German poet, translator, and professor of Oriental languages.
Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué was a German writer of the Romantic style.
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger, commonly known as Max Reger, was a German composer, pianist, organist, conductor, and academic teacher. He worked as a concert pianist, as a musical director at the Leipzig University Church, as a professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, and as a music director at the court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen.
Genevieveof Brabant is a heroine of medieval legend.
Max Reger's 1915 Requiem, Op. 144b, is a late Romantic setting of Friedrich Hebbel's poem "Requiem" for alto or baritone solo, chorus and orchestra. It is Reger's last completed work for chorus and orchestra, dedicated in the autograph as Dem Andenken der im Kriege 1914/15 gefallenen deutschen Helden.
Judith is a play written in 1840 by the German dramatist Friedrich Hebbel.
The Reger-Chor is a German-Belgian choir. It was founded in Wiesbaden in 1985 and has been conducted by Gabriel Dessauer in Wiesbaden. Since 2001 it has grown to Regerchor-International in a collaboration with the organist Ignace Michiels of the St. Salvator's Cathedral of Bruges. The choir performs an annual concert both in Germany and Belgium of mostly sacred choral music for choir and organ. Concerts have taken place regularly in St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, and in the cathedral of Bruges in its series "Kathedraalconcerten". The choir performed additional concerts at other churches of the two countries and in the Concertgebouw of Bruges.
Max Beckschäfer is a German organist, composer and academic.
Samuel de Lange Jr. was a Dutch composer, music conservatory director, organist, pianist, conductor and music teacher. His father, Samuel de Lange Sr., and his one year younger brother Daniël de Lange were also well known musicians.
Marga Höffgen was a German contralto, known for singing oratorio, especially the Passions by Johann Sebastian Bach, and operatic parts such as Erda in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, performed at the Bayreuth Festival and Covent Garden Opera in London between 1960 and 1975.
Der Einsiedler Op. 144a, is a composition for baritone soloist, five-part choir and orchestra by Max Reger, written in 1915. The German text is a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff, beginning "Komm' Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht". The composition was published in 1916 after Reger's death by N. Simrock, combined with the Hebbel Requiem, as Zwei Gesänge für gemischten Chor mit Orchester, Op. 144.
Vier Tondichtungen nach A. Böcklin, Op. 128, is a composition in four parts for orchestra by Max Reger, based on four paintings by Arnold Böcklin, including Die Toteninsel. He composed them in Meiningen in 1913.
Elsa Reger was a German writer, the wife of the pianist and composer Max Reger, whose memory she kept alive by founding an archive, the Max-Reger-Institute and a foundation, all dedicated to him and his work. The foundation is now named after her.
Martin Greif, born Friedrich Hermann Frey was a German freelance writer of poems and of dramas which were performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna and the Bavarian Court Theatre in Munich. His songs inspired compositions by Max Reger and Alban Berg, among others.
"An die Hoffnung", Op. 124, is a Lied for alto or mezzo-soprano and orchestra by Max Reger, setting a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin. He composed it in Meiningen in 1912 and dedicated it to Anna Erler-Schnaudt, the singer of the first performance. It was published by Edition Peters the same year.
Die Weihe der Nacht, Op. 119, is a choral composition for alto, men's choir and orchestra by Max Reger, setting a poem by Friedrich Hebbel. He composed it in Leipzig in 1911 and dedicated it to Gertrud Fischer-Maretzki, the soloist in the first performance. It was published by Ed. Bote & G. Bock in Berlin the same year.
Heinz Wunderlich was a German organist, academic, and composer. He was known for playing the organ works of Max Reger. He studied in Leipzig with Karl Straube, a friend of Reger. Wunderlich worked as both a church musician and academic in Halle until 1957 when he fled to West Germany and became a church musician and academic in Hamburg. He toured internationally and attracted students from many countries to study with him in Hamburg. After retiring from teaching, he went on to more compositions.
Judith is an opera in two acts by Siegfried Matthus with a libretto by the composer based on Friedrich Hebbel's Judith and texts from the Old Testament. The premiere was on 28 September 1985 at the Komische Oper Berlin, directed by Harry Kupfer. It was recorded in a studio production.
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