Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb

Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb frēˈdrĭkh gôtˈlēp klôpˈshtôk [key], 1724–1803, German poet, important for his influence upon Goethe, the Göttingen poets, and the Sturm und Drang movement. His epic Messias (4 vol., 1748–73, tr. The Messiah) created a literary storm when it first appeared in the Bremen Beiträge. The poem has the merit of being the first major modern work by a distinctively German poet, but the poem as a whole is weak, for Klopstock's genius was lyrical rather than epic. His rhapsodic, musical Odes (1747–80) strongly influenced German song composition. Gluck, C. P. E. Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, and many others set them to music. Klopstock also wrote a trilogy of dramas on the Germanic hero Hermann (1769, 1784, 1787).

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