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Samuel Friedrich Sauter

born: 1766
died: 1846
country: Germany

The poet Samuel Sauter is not to be confused with Ferdinand Sauter (1804-1854) who was a sometime member of the Schubert circle from 1826. The poet came from Germany, born in Flehingen, Baden, and was a schoolmaster for most of his life. His work is mainly in a naïve folk-like style, some of it unintentionally funny to those who mock the earnest literary solemnity of the provinces and of that part of Southern Germany in particular. The collection Volkslieder und andere Reime was published in 1811 and his collected poems were issued in 1845. In 1855 some of Sauter’s poems were issued by Eichrodt and Kussmaul as the work of one Gottlieb Biedermaier, a fictional Swabian schoolmaster. Their reception, which prompted a humorous enthusiasm for the simplicities and banalities of a vanished age, prompted the coining of the term ‘Biedermeier’ to denote that uneventful period of German and Austrian history (the term is also applied to literature, painting, furniture and so on) between the fall of Napoleon and the political upheavals of 1848. As Schubert’s whole life and work fall within these parameters, he is the Biedermeier composer par excellence. The danger of this was that the false image of the safety and small-town cosiness of the Biedermeier epoch, actually a politically repressive period for Austrians, has tended to obscure many important details in Schubert’s life. It is interesting that the kitsch simplifications of the musical Die Dreimäderlhaus (Lilac Time) were an indirect result of Sauter’s poetry and style and of the Viennese falling in love with the spuriously nostalgic idea of Biedermeier Gemütlichkeit.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997


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