The colossal power of music
Mozart revealed his secrets to him late in life; Beethoven remained a closed mystery to him; and Schubert went unnoticed – but nevertheless, for Goethe, music remained a lifedetermining force from his childhood onwards. His early poems are ballads; he collected folk songs from Alsace for Johann Gottfried Herder, and brought them to life with lilting melodies; and he sang out the wild hymns of the Sturm und Drang era with full voice. Even in his very last collection of poems, the section entitled "Ballads" is placed at the beginning. He wanted to lay new foundations for musical theatre in Germany with Philipp Kayser, the ingenious friend of his youth. On returning from his Italian journey, he worked in close collaboration with court conductor Johann Friedrich Reichardt, leader of the so-called Berlin Song School (Berliner Liederschule), and successful composer. Later Carl Friedrich Zelter, composer and founder of the Berliner Singakademie, entered Goethe's life. Together they achieved, in the form of the "Lied" (ballad), the vision of a literary movement that reached its apotheosis in music. With his unique fusion of knowledge, enthusiasm and love of a good tale, Norbert Miller relates the unusual story of this poet's Utopia.