Sturm und Drang 1760 – 1790

Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s to the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements The period is named for Friedrich Maximilian Klinger’s play Sturm und Drang, which was first performed by Abel Seyler’s famed theatrical company in 1777
The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, with Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, H L Wagner and Friedrich Maximilian Klinger also significant figures Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it by initiating what would become Weimar Classicism

Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music that took place from the late 1760s to the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements The period is named for Friedrich Maximilian Klinger’s play Sturm und Drang, which was first performed by Abel Seyler’s famed theatrical company in 1777

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The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, with Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, H L Wagner and Friedrich Maximilian Klinger also significant figures Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it by initiating what would become Weimar Classicism

The parallel movement in the visual arts can be witnessed in paintings of storms and shipwrecks showing the terror and irrational destruction wrought by nature These pre-romantic works were fashionable in Germany from the 1760s on through the 1780s, illustrating a public audience for emotionally provocative artwork Additionally, disturbing visions and portrayals of nightmares were gaining an audience in Germany as evidenced by Goethe’s possession and admiration of paintings by Fuseli capable of ‘giving the viewer a good fright’ Notable artists included Joseph Vernet, Caspar Wolf, Philip James de Loutherbourg, and Henry Fuseli

Sturm und Drang came to be associated with literature or music aimed at shocking the audience or imbuing them with extremes of emotion The movement soon gave way to Weimar Classicism and early Romanticism, whereupon a socio-political concern for greater human freedom from despotism was incorporated along with a religious treatment of all things natural

There is much debate regarding whose work should or should not be included in the canon of Sturm und Drang One point of view would limit the movement to Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, and their direct German associates writing works of fiction and/or philosophy between 1770 and the early 1780s The alternative perspective is that of a literary movement inextricably linked to simultaneous developments in prose, poetry, and drama, extending its direct influence throughout the German-speaking lands until the end of the 18th century Nevertheless, the originators of the movement came to view it as a time of premature exuberance that was then abandoned in favor of often conflicting artistic pursuits