Peter guest

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Heinrich Köselitz

Peter Gast , actually Heinrich Köselitz , completely Johann Heinrich Köselitz (born January 10, 1854 in Annaberg , † August 15, 1918 there ) was a German writer and composer . He is known as a long-time friend and colleague of Friedrich Nietzsche .

Youth, marriage, acquaintance with Nietzsche and own work

Image of youth by Heinrich Köselitz

Johann Heinrich Köselitz was born in 1854 as the son of Annaberg Deputy Mayor Gustav Hermann Köselitz (1822–1910) and his wife Caroline (1819–1900) from Vienna . His younger brother was the painter Rudolf Köselitz . From 1872 Heinrich studied music under Ernst Friedrich Richter at the University of Leipzig . In 1875 he moved to the University of Basel , where he heard lectures by Jacob Burckhardt , Franz Overbeck and Friedrich Nietzsche . In 1877 he sharply attacked the Basel music teacher Selmar Bagge in an article for a magazine , which caused a minor scandal.

On September 3, 1900, he married Franziska Elise Wagner (1874–1966) in Weimar. The daughter Johanna Elisa Carina Gast (born January 25, 1902 in Weimar; † October 27, 1919 in Annaberg) emerged from the marriage.

A friendship soon developed with Friedrich Nietzsche. Köselitz read to Nietzsche, who was at times almost blind, and had him dictate his writings. For all of Nietzsche's works from 1876 onwards, he helped with the preparation of the print manuscript , read proof sheets and sometimes intervened in the final drafting of the text; so he acted as a kind of secretary. According to the unanimous opinion of interpreters, Nietzsche valued and overestimated Köselitz as a musician and helping hand, while Köselitz adored his former teacher, probably also glorified and served him up to the point of self-abandonment.

During a joint stay in Recoaro in the spring of 1881, Nietzsche coined the pseudonym "Peter Gast" (also: Pietro Gasti) for Köselitz , under which he published his works and became known in the Nietzsche reception. Peter Gast's main musical work is the "comic opera in three acts" The Lion of Venice . Attempts by the Gasts and Nietzsches to perform them in the 1880s all failed. It was premiered in Gdansk in February 1891 - under the direction of the Nietzsche letter partner Carl Fuchs and under the original title The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto) . Under the title The Lion of Venice suggested by Nietzsche , she saw eleven performances in the Chemnitz Opera House in 1933 and in Regensburg in 1940. Excerpts from the opera were performed in Annaberg in 1947, and in 2013 Naoshi Takahashi conducted the opera in the Eduard-von-Winterstein-Theater in Annaberg, staged by Tamara Korber.

Köselitz was financially supported by his father, and at times by Nietzsche's friend Paul Rée . In addition to being a musician and editor of Nietzsche's writings and letters ( see below ), he worked as a writer under other pseudonyms (e.g. Ludwig Mürner, Peter Schlemihl or Petrus Eremitus); he wrote articles - including stories and fables - for various magazines.

Editor Nietzsche

Interventions in the printed manuscript of Ecce homo

After Nietzsche's mental collapse in 1889, Peter Gast advised Franz Overbeck and Nietzsche's publishers on how to proceed with Nietzsche's work and secured the writings that were left ready for printing and the estate; from 1891 he wanted to publish the first complete edition (with his own forewords). This was stopped and pulped by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche after 1893; the philosopher's sister now took control of the work and the estate. In 1899 she was able to win guest over to work in the Nietzsche archive she founded ; he was mainly needed because he was the only one who could decipher Nietzsche's notes. In the years to come, he and Förster-Nietzsche published the alleged “major work” of Nietzsche's Der Wille zur Macht , which was actually a questionable compilation of estate material. Guest also took part in campaigns against critics at the archive, including former employees as well as Franz Overbeck and Carl Albrecht Bernoulli . It was not until 1909 that he broke with Förster-Nietzsche again and now spoke violently against the archive in private letters .

It was not until 1969 that Mazzino Montinari found the final version of a chapter of Nietzsche's Ecce homo in Köselitz's estate . It contains severe attacks by Nietzsche against his mother and sister. Nietzsche research now assumes that Gast and Förster-Nietzsche worked together on the basis of a temporary "agreement": both had Nietzsche's documents that were uncomfortable for the other.

From 1910 Heinrich Köselitz lived and worked again in his hometown Annaberg. Here he wrote (also under the pseudonym "Peter Schlemihl") poems, essays and humoresques (some in the Ore Mountains dialect); he campaigned for the preservation of the dialect as well as its purity and distribution.

On August 15, 1918, he died as "Petrus Eremita" in his "Epicurus Garden", as he called his home. There is a Köselitz-Platz and a Peter-Gast-Straße in Annaberg. In Berlin / Köpenick, the former Wendenstrasse (1866-1939) in the Wendenschloss villa colony was renamed Peter-Gast-Weg in 1939. On the occasion of his 150th birthday, Annaberg organized - after decades of silence about him - a week of festivities with his works. In March 2012, a soiree on life and work took place at the Erzhammer cultural center in Annaberg-Buchholz, with songs from Op. 4 and 7 by Peter Gast were heard for the first time in Germany. The largest part of the Peter Guest Archive is in the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in the Nietzsche Archive there . There are also archives from the Annaberg estate, which was believed to be lost.


  • Jokes, cunning and vengeance (comic opera, based on a text by Goethe; 1881/82)
  • Williram und Siegeer ( draft opera, tragedy, 3 acts (1878–1880), only 3 scenes of act 1 completed, libretto by the composer)
  • King Wenzel (opera draft around 1889)
  • Miska-Csárdás (1885)
  • Bright nights (1887, dedicated to Arnold Böcklein, called "Hungarian Symphony")
  • The Lion of Venice (opera, 1st version 1884–1891), premiered January 23, 1891, Stadttheater Danzig, (under the title The Secret Marriage ), another 11 performances in 1933 in Chemnitz, 1940 in Regensburg and 2013 in Annaberg-Buchholz.
  • Songs (Op. 1–9), arias and musical poems such as B. Lethe, Nachtfeier, Waldweben, (created between 1893 and 1905), he set a. a. Poetry by Rudolf Baumbach , Anna Klie, Friedrich Daumer, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , Paul Heyse , Joseph von Eichendorff , Friedrich Rückert , Kurt von Zelau, Max Zerbst, Anna Ritter , Friedrich Hebbel , Ludwig Uhland , Wilhelm Müller , Anton Ohorn . These works were published by Friedrich Hofmeister in Leipzig around 1900.
  • Drama music for the Harz Festival Walpurgis by E. Wachler (1903), together with Adolf Emge
  • Imperial hymn for church, school and fatherland (organ, choir, trombone choir, 1916)

Texts in standard German and in the Ore Mountains dialect

  • "Confused People" (1893),
  • "Pastor Wildsche and some other poems" (1896)
  • "Aphorisms for wisdom" (around 1900)

Reading sample of a dialect poem

Ze Rockn

It’s up to me: Your leader
is coming! I want to answer.
Because now the Kinner is sleepy, you
need to say hello Verhehln:

I talk about how God made a
shovel wax for me;
Does it matter epper mol ze hanebieng,
don't be bored!

To me peasants, who in my dear brother's
ploong Gahr say, Gahr ei ',
I can't be too squeamish
as like de Stadtleit'.

Let me be carved out of wood,
talk to me and revenge, talk to
me from laaber wack
- bewitched as well as awed!

Was dodrmiet zefriedn is,
Glickauf! Dos is my 'Ma'!
In then joke stacks! In then strength stacks!
Daar is - kä 'Hubelspah'! ...

  • "Ze Rockn gih" or "hutzn gih" means: going to a befriended family after dinner, where others usually come together to chat, sing and work. The first expression (cf. Rocken ) indicates the formerly common spinning - Heinrich Köselitz explains his poem.


  • Peter Gast: Friedrich Nietzsche's letters to Peter Gast . Insel, Leipzig 1908.
  • A. Mendt (Ed.): Peter Gast's letters to Friedrich Nietzsche . 2 volumes. Nietzsche Society, Munich 1923/24.
  • Friedrich Götz: Peter Gast - the person, the artist, the scholar. A picture of life in sources. Annaberg 1934.
  • Ekkehart Kroher:  Guest, Peter. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 6, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1964, ISBN 3-428-00187-7 , p. 86 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Christian Zemmrich: Peter Gast. Tribute to an important son of our city. Forays through the history of the Upper Ore Mountains. Issue 7. Annaberg 1997, DNB 986578282 .
  • Gotthard B. Schicker : Nietzsche's favorite guest . In: Dicknischl. Erzgebirge people from then and now . Marienberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-931770-76-1 , pp. 45-62.
  • Gotthard B. Schicker: Köselitz: World Citizens from Annaberg - A Family and City Biography, ERZDruck, Marienberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-946568-23-0

Web links

Wikisource: Peter Gast  - Sources and full texts