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Although Zacharias Werner was the poet of only three Schubert songs, he was a central figure in the Romantic movement, especially as a dramatist. He was famous as the writer of historical dramas like Martin Luther and Die Söhne des Thales and 24 Februar, the influential Schicksaltragödie, the popularity of which was an equivalent for the vogue for grisly Friday the Thirteenth movies in our own time. Werner was much travelled, converted to Catholicism on a visit to Rome, and was later ordained. He naturally then rescinded the eulogy of Luther contained in his earlier play. He would have been known to Schubert by his reputation as a fashionable preacher at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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