Monday, August 4, 2014

Sturm and Drang, 1

Recently a friend of mine used the term Sturm and Drang. Because I enjoy parts of etymology (the study of where words came from and their earliest known use) I spent some time on the Internet. The term comes from a German movement  from the late 1760s to the early 1780s involving literature and music. It emphasized the volatile emotional life of an individual and although the moement didn’t last very long, it nevertheless made its mark. Friedrich Maximilian Klinger wrote a five-act play (1776) that apparently first used the term in its title. The theme of the play, first performed by Abel Seyler's famed theatrical company in 1777, involves the unfolding of the American Revolution, the author giving violent expression to difficult emotions and extolling individuality and subjectivity over the prevailing order of rationalism. While it can be argued that literature and music associated with Sturm und Drang predate Klinger’s play, it was from this point that German artists reportedly became distinctly self-conscious of a new aesthetic. What does the term Sturm and Drang mean? Part 2 tomorrow.

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