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Art & Sculpture Inventory

Essay by Steve Couch

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Photograph of the Heine bust.

Heinrich Heine: (1797-1856) German Poet

Heinrich Heine was born in Düsseldorf, Germany on December 13, 1797 to an assimilated Jewish family.  Heine converted to Protestantism in 1825.  Heinrich Heine lived at a time of major social and political changes, such as the French Revolution (1789-99) and the Napoleonic wars, which deeply influenced his thinking.

His poetic lyrics have inspired such composers as Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Schumann. Among Heine's famous poems is 'Die Lorelei', set to music by Silcher in 1837. It became one of the most popular of German songs. 

A visit to Hamburg resulted in his verse-satire Germany - A Winter Tale (1844) which his close associate of that time, Karl Marx, published in full in his newspaper Forwards. It was a sharp attack on reactionary conditions in Germany.  It was followed by Atta Troll. A Mid-Summer Night's Dream (1847) in which he poked fun at the utopian political writing then prevailing in Germany.

Heine died in Paris on February 17, 1856. His verse influenced the young Rilke, Wilhelm Busch, and Frank Wedekind, and a number of other aspiring poets, although his works aroused controversy in Germany long after his death. Proposals to erect his statue caused riots. Also because of Heine's Jewish background, the Nazis insisted that the poet's songs should be marked 'author unknown' in poetry collections.

Photographs:

Statue of Heine

Dedication of Heine Bust

Further Reading:

Joshi, Roswitha: German News, The Embassy of Germany

Online Encyclopedia