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Wilhelm Müller

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Life

Born: 7 October 1794, Dessau

Died: 30 September 1827

Biography

Wilhelm Müller was a German lyric poet. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native town and at the university of Berlin, where he devoted himself to philological and historical studies. In 1813-1814 he took part, as a volunteer, in the national rising against Napoleon. In 1817 he visited Italy, and in 1820 published his impressions in Rom, Römer und Römerinnen. In 1818 he was appointed teacher of classics in the Dessau school, and in 1820 librarian to the ducal library.

Müller's earliest lyrics are contained in a volume of poems, Bundesbluten, by several friends, which was published in 1816. His literary reputation was made by the Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisenden Waldhornisten (2 vols., 1821-1824), and the Lieder der Griechen (1821-1824). The latter collection was Germany's chief tribute of sympathy to the Greeks in their struggle against the Turkish yoke, a theme which inspired many poets of the time. Two volumes of Neugriechische Volkslieder, and Lyrische Reisen und epigrammatische Spaziergänge, followed in 1825 and 1827. Müller also wrote a book on the Homerische Vorschule (1824; 2nd. ed., 1836), translated Marlowe's Faustus, and edited a Bibliothek der Dichtungen des 17 Jahrhunderts (1825-1827; 10 vols.).

Rightly or wrongly, Müller is not considered a major figure of German literature, and his work would probably be even less well known if his contemporary, the composer Franz Schubert, had not set a substantial amount of his poetry to music. Schubert's two song cycles, Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise, are based on collections by Müller.

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