Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
Friedrich Rückert is known as a linguistic and philosophical genius. As a writer, he was even more popular than Goethe for a while in Germany in the 19th century. Not only that, he mastered more than 40 foreign languages and translated literature from them into German, including the Qur’an.
He became professor of Oriental languages in Erlangen in 1826, marking the beginning of his most productive period. During his time at FAU, Rückert published his most famous work ‘Die Weisheit der Brahmanen’ (the wisdom of the Brahmins), inspired by Indian and other Oriental works. He also had a major influence on teaching in Oriental Studies.
It is thanks to Rückert that the rich heritage of the Orient was explored in such detail over the course of the following century. In this respect, he was as influential as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel.
Many of Friedrich Rückert’s poems have been set to music as songs. Among the most well-known are his “Kindertotenlieder” (songs on the death of children) composed by Gustav Mahler. Other composers including Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Carl Loewe, Heinrich Kaspar Schmid, Richard Strauss and Felix Draeseke set Rückert’s works to music, making him one of the German writers whose writing has been set to music the most often, together with Goethe and Heine.
Image: FAU University Library