Becker, Rudolph Zacharias
- Raymond A. Barr
(b Erfurt, April 9, 1752; d Gotha, March 28, 1822). German writer and publisher. The son of a schoolteacher, he graduated in theology from Jena University, and then taught at a school in Klettenberg am Harze for a short time before returning to Erfurt as a tutor. In 1782 he took a teaching position in Dessau, but in 1784 moved to Gotha to help found a teachers’ institute. There he continued his career as a writer, established several periodicals and in 1795 founded his own publishing house.
Becker is best known for his literary works, particularly the Versuch über die Aufklärung des Landsmanns (1784) and the remarkably popular Noth- und Hülfsbüchlein für Bauersleute (1787), both of which deal with his imaginary utopian village of Mildheim. His importance to music rests in the songbook he compiled for the village – the Mildheimisches Liederbuch von 518 lustigen und ernsthaften Gesängen über alle Dinge in der Welt und alle Umstände des menschlichen Lebens, die man besingen kann, gesammelt für Freunde erlaubter Fröhlichkeit und echer Tugend, die den Kopf nicht hängt...