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FREDERICH SCHILLER

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Born Nov. 10, 1759, Marbach, Württemberg — Died May 9, 1805, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar) German dramatist, poet, and literary theorist, one of the greatest figures in German literature. Schiller was educated at the direction of a domineering duke, whose tyranny he eventually fled to write. With his successful first play, The Robbers (1781), he took up the exploration of freedom, a central theme throughout his works. Don Carlos (1787), his first major poetic drama, helped establish blank verse as the recognized medium of German poetic drama. His jubilant "Ode to Joy" was later used in Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Appointed professor of history at the University of Jena in 1789, he developed his epic masterpiece, the historical drama Wallenstein (1800). During a period spent formulating his views on aesthetic activity, he produced philosophical essays, exquisite reflective poems, and some of his most popular ballads. He spent his last years in ill health in Weimar, near his friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His mature plays, including Maria Stuart (performed 1800) and Wilhelm Tell (1804), examine the inward freedom of the soul that enables the individual to rise above physical frailties and the pressure of material conditions.