Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
- Philip Weller
(b Frankfurt, Aug 28, 1749; d Weimar, March 22, 1832). German poet, dramatist and novelist. One of the most important literary and cultural figures of his age, he was recognized during his lifetime for his accomplishments of almost universal breadth. However, it is his literary works that have most consistently sustained his reputation, and that also serve to demonstrate most clearly his many-faceted relationship to music.
Goethe studied law in Leipzig and Strasbourg, but after returning to Frankfurt in 1771 he worked as a newspaper critic. In 1771 he moved to Weimar as a court official and privy councillor.
In 1791, after making two visits to Italy (1786–8, 1790), he became Intendant of the Weimar court theatre, and he held this post until 1817. His literary works were set to music, chiefly as operas and lieder, from the 1770s onwards; his views on music, which emanate from observations in novels, letters and other writings, contribute valuably to the social and cultural history of music and its reception....