Wilhelm Müller (poet)

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Wilhelm Müller, engraving by Johann Friedrich Schröter
Monument in the Dessau city park
Monument in Franzensbad, Adolf Mayerl 1910
Resting place on the new burial place in Dessau
Wilhelm Müller, Felixarchief

Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Müller (born October 7, 1794 in Dessau ; † October 1, 1827 there ) was a German poet . He was the father of the linguist Friedrich Max Müller .


Wilhelm Müller was the sixth child of the tailor Christian Leopold Müller and his wife Marie Leopoldine, née Cellarius. His siblings died early, and in 1808 he also lost his mother. His father, who repeatedly got into financial difficulties due to long illnesses, married the wealthy widow Marie Seelmann, née Gödel, in 1809.

In 1812 Wilhelm Müller began to study philology in Berlin , but in February 1813 he volunteered for the Prussian army and took part in the wars of liberation against Napoleon . In 1814 he was made a lieutenant. From 1816 he attended literary salons in Berlin, where he met Gustav Schwab , Achim von Arnim , Clemens Brentano , Ludwig Tieck and the composer Ludwig Berger . Already in 1816/1817 he set Müller's texts for a song play . Five of these settings were published in 1818 as part of Berger's song cycle Gesänge from a social song play "Die Schöne Müllerin" . He was unhappily in love with the poet Luise Hensel . In 1817/18 he went on an educational trip to Italy.

In April 1819 he was appointed high school teacher of history, Latin and Greek in his hometown Dessau. In 1820 he was appointed ducal librarian to Duke Leopold IV. Friedrich (Anhalt Dessau) .

On May 21, 1821, he married Adelheid Basedow, a granddaughter of the reform pedagogue Johann Bernhard Basedow . With her he had two children, Auguste, born on April 20, 1822, and Friedrich Max, born on December 6, 1823 .

From July 1st to 3rd, 1824 he took part in the music festival for Klopstock's "Säcularfeier" in Quedlinburg , which had been initiated by Quedlinburg citizens to erect a memorial for Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock . The music festival, at which his wife Adelheid sang the alto part, was directed by Carl Maria von Weber . He reported on the celebration in Brockhaus' literary conversation paper . The monument by Schinkel and Tieck was inaugurated on July 7, 1831 in the Quedlinburg park in Brühl .

In August 1824, Müller was appointed court counselor . In March 1826 he fell ill with whooping cough . Despite several spa stays (in Franzensbad , where his memorial is located), his health went steadily downhill and he died of a heart attack the following year at the age of only 32.

Müller became known for his socially critical German folk songs . He campaigned for the Greeks' struggle for independence against the Turkish occupation - hence his nickname " Greeks Miller", although he never visited Greece.

He could read English very well and was influenced by Lord Byron , among others , who had participated in the Greek struggle for independence.

Mueller served as publisher and editor, among other things for the publishing house Brockhaus published Library German poets of the seventeenth century worked. The library was continued by Karl August Förster and finished with Volume 14. In addition, Müller worked for various literary magazines, including the literary conversation paper and Hermes .

Wilhelm Müller was a freemason . In July 1820 he was accepted into the Freemason Lodge Minerva to the three palms in Leipzig.

The literary estate of Müller is kept in the Anhalt State Library in Dessau .


During his lifetime, Müller was often dismissed as a mediocre Romantic writer , and criticism continues to this day. In contrast, there is an effort to obtain a more differentiated appreciation than Heinrich Heine's forerunner .


First complete edition of Wilhelm Müller's works in contemporary covers
  • Seven and seventy poems from the papers left behind by a traveling French horn player, first volume , 1821 - contains a. a. the cycle The beautiful miller's wife
  • Seven and seventy poems from the papers left behind by a traveling French horn player, second volume , 1824 - contains u. a. the cycle Die Winterreise
  • Lyrical journeys and epigrammatic walks , 1827 - contains u. a. the cycle of mussels from the island of Rügen with the poem "Vineta", which Johannes Brahms set to music in 1860 as one of three songs for six-part choir a cappella (op. 42 No. 2)
  • Gustav Schwab (Ed.): Mixed writings by Wilhelm Müller. In five ribbons. Leipzig 1830, online vol. 1
  • Debora . In: German Novellenschatz . Edited by Paul Heyse and Hermann Kurz. Vol. 18. 2nd edition Berlin, [1910], pp. 1–148. In: Weitin, Thomas (Ed.): Fully digitized corpus. The German Novellenschatz . Darmstadt / Konstanz, 2016 ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )


Today's post-fame Müller is mainly based on his poetry cycles Die Schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise . They were set to music by Franz Schubert (see Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise ) and are among the most famous song cycles of the 19th century. Schubert used two more poems by Müller for the song Der Hirt auf dem Felsen , which is accompanied by clarinet and piano . There is no evidence that Müller ever heard of these settings, although Schubert completed Schöne Müllerin as early as 1823, while Winterreise was not set to music until 1827, i.e. in the year of Müller's death and a year before Schubert's own death. The best known was the song Der Lindenbaum from Winterreise in Friedrich Silcher's simplified folk song version under the title Am Brunnen vor dem Tore . Also popular was Im Krug zum Grünen Kranze , published in 1821; Wandering (in Müller Wandering ) from the beautiful miller's wife, on the other hand, did not become a folksong-like wandering song with Schubert's melody, but with that of Carl Friedrich Zöllner .

In addition to and after Franz Schubert, many other composers have set Müller's poems from his collections Blumenlese from the Minnesingers , seven and seventy poems from the papers left behind by a traveling French horn player, and lyric journeys and epigrammatic walks , etc. a. Ludwig Berger , Johannes Brahms , Felix Draeseke , Karl Graedener , F. Gustav Jansen , Adolf Jensen , Fanny Hensel , Conradin Kreutzer , Heinrich Marschner , Giacomo Meyerbeer , Otto Nicolai , Max Reger , Carl Reinecke , Louis Spohr and Wilhelm Taubert .

It is also worth mentioning that the poem Der Leiermann , the last song of the winter journey, found its way into the so-called dark club scene in 2000. The Swedish band Covenant published - sung in German - their setting of this poem in "electronic garb".

Wilhelm Müller Prize

The Wilhelm Müller Prize is since 1996 a rule, every two years by the state of Saxony-Anhalt , alternating with the Friedrich Nietzsche Prize awarded as a prize for the literary offspring.


  • F. Max Müller:  Müller, Wilhelm . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1885, pp. 683-694.
  • Hans-Wolf Jäger:  Müller, Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 18, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-428-00199-0 , pp. 320-322 ( digitized version ).
  • Otto Hachtmann: Wilhelm Müller . In: Mitteldeutsche Lebensbilder , Volume 2: Lebensbilder des 19. Century ; Magdeburg 1927; Pp. 151-170.
  • Norbert Michels (Ed.): Wilhelm Müller, a journey through life . Böhlau, Weimar 1994, ISBN 3-7400-0960-8 (exhibition catalog of the Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie Dessau for the 200th birthday).
  • Maria-Verena Leistner (Ed.): Wilhelm Müller. Works, diaries, letters , 5 volumes and a register volume; Berlin: Mathias Gatza, 1994; ISBN 3-928262-21-1 .
  • Erika von Borries: Wilhelm Müller - The poet of the winter journey. A biography ; Munich: CH Beck, 2007; ISBN 978-3-406-56212-9 (with 2 audio CDs).
  • Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder : Internationales Freemaurerlexikon . Revised and expanded new edition of the 1932 edition; Munich 2003; ISBN 3-7766-2161-3 .
  • Margret Schütte: I have to show me the way ... In: Ingo Kühl Winterreise . Pp. 53-55, Berlin 1996.

Web links

Wikisource: Wilhelm Müller  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Wilhelm Müller  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. See Harro Paul Harring's biography .
  2. ^ Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon . Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7766-2161-3
  3. For example, B. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spoke of "Lazarettpoesie" in a conversation with Eckermann held on Sept. 24, 1827 in connection with W. Müller's visit to Goethe on September 21, 1827 and with entries from various poets in W. Müller's bibliography .
  4. ^ Fritz Martini: German History of Literature ; Cologne: Komet, 2003 (= Stuttgart: Kröner, 1991); ISBN 3-89836-381-3 ; Pp. 349-350.
  5. See e.g. B. Wilhelm Müller (Ed.): Seven and seventy poems from the papers left behind by a traveling French horn player . Christian Georg Ackermann, Dessau 1821. Digitized and full text in the German text archive
  6. ^ Author: Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827). In: The LiederNet Archive. Emily Esta, accessed November 28, 2015 .
  7. See Ingo Kühl Winterreise - 24 images for the song cycle of the same name by Franz Schubert, based on poems by Wilhelm Müller