Heiner Müller


Heiner Müller

Heiner Müller (January 9, 1929 – December 30, 1995) was a (formerly East) German dramatist, poet, writer, essayist and theatre director. Described as "the theatre's greatest living poet" since Samuel Beckett, Müller is arguably the most important German dramatist of the 20th century after Bertolt Brecht. His "enigmatic, fragmentary pieces" are a significant contribution to postmodern drama. "With Beckett's death Müller becomes the theatre's greatest living poet." "Village Voice", quoted on the backcover of Müller's "Theatremachine" (1995). The phrase "enigmatic and fragmentary pieces" comes from the article on Müller in "The Cambridge Guide to Theatre" (Banham 1995, 765). Among others, Elizabeth Wright assesses Müller's contribution to a postmodern drama in "Postmodern Brecht" (1989).]

Biography

Müller was born in Eppendorf, Saxony. He joined the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED) in 1947 and began serving for the German Writers' Association (Deutscher Schriftsteller-Verband, DSV) in 1954. Müller became one of the most important dramatists of the German Democratic Republic and won the Heinrich Mann Prize in 1959 and the Kleist Prize in 1990.

His relationship with the East German state began to deteriorate, however, with his drama "Die Umsiedlerin" ("The Resettler Woman") which was censored in 1961 after only one performance. Müller was banned from the Writers' Association in the same year. The East German government remained wary of Müller in subsequent years, preventing the premiere of "Der Bau" ("Construction Site") in 1965 and censoring his "Mauser" in the early 1970s. Müller began to work with West German ensembles and theater houses in the 1970s and 80s, directing premières of some of his best-known works in Munich ("Germania Tod in Berlin" ("Germania Death in Berlin"), 1978), Essen ("Die Hamletmaschine" ("Hamletmachine"), 1979) and Bochum ("Der Auftrag" ("The Mission"), 1982).

Due to his growing world-wide fame, Müller was able to gain more widespread acceptance in East Germany again. He was admitted to the Academy of Arts of the GDR in 1984 — only two years before he became a member of the Academy of the Arts of West Berlin. Despite earlier honors, Müller was not readmitted to the East German Writers' Association until 1988, shortly before the end of the GDR. After the fall of the Wall, Müller even became president of the Academy of the Arts of the GDR for a short time in 1990. In 1992 he was invited to join the directorate of the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht's former company, as one of its five members. In 1995, shortly before his death, he was appointed as its artistic director.Weber (2001, 243-244).]

The last five years of his life Müller continued to live in Berlin and work all over Germany and Europe, mostly producing stagings of his own works. He wrote few new dramatic texts in this time, though, like Brecht, he did produce much poetry in his final years. Müller died in Berlin in 1995, acknowledged as one of the greatest living German authors and the most important German dramatist since Bertolt Brecht.

An nine-volume edition of his complete works has recently been published by Suhrkamp. Among his better known works, other than those already mentioned, are "Der Lohndrücker" ("The Scab"), "Wolokolamsker Chaussee" ("Volokolamsk Highway") Parts I-V, "Verkommenes Ufer Medeamaterial Landschaft mit Argonauten" ("Despoiled Shore Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts"), "Philoktet" ("Philoctetes"), "Zement" ("Cement"), "Bildbeschreibung" ("Description of a Picture" aka "Explosion of a memory") and "Quartett".

Major works

(Where two dates are offered below, the first gives the date of composition, the second gives the date of the first theatrical production.)Weber (2001).]

Works cited

Primary material

* Müller, Heiner. 1984. "Hamletmachine and Other Texts for the Stage." Ed. and trans. Carl Weber. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. ISBN 0933826451.
* Müller, Heiner. 1989a. "Explosion of a Memory: Writings by Heiner Müller". Ed. and trans. Carl Weber. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. ISBN 1555540414.
* Müller, Heiner. 1989b. "The Battle: Plays, Prose, Poems by Heiner Müller". Ed. and trans. Carl Weber. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. ISBN 155554049X.
* Müller, Heiner. 1990. "Germania". Trans. Bernard Schütze and Caroline Schütze. Ed. Sylvère Lotringer. Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Ser. New York: Semiotext(e). ISBN 0936756632.
* Müller, Heiner. 1995. "Theatremachine." Ed. and trans. Marc von Henning. London and Boston: Faber. ISBN 0571175287.
* Müller, Heiner. 2001. "A Heiner Müller Reader: Plays | Poetry | Prose". Ed. and trans. Carl Weber. PAJ Books Ser. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801865786.

econdary material

* Banham, Martin. 1995. "The Cambridge Guide to World Theatre." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521434378.
* Friedman, Dan, ed. 2003. "Müller in America: American Productions of Works by Heiner Müller Vol.1." New York: Castillo. ISBN 0966247116.
* Kalb, Jonathan. 1998. "The Theater of Heiner Müller". 2nd rev. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0879109653.
* Kushner, Tony. 2001. Foreword. In "A Heiner Müller Reader: Plays | Poetry | Prose." by Heiner Müller. PAJ Books Ser. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801865786. p.xi-xvii.
* Weber, Carl. 2001. Chronology. In "A Heiner Müller Reader: Plays | Poetry | Prose" by Heiner Müller. PAJ Books Ser. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801865786. p.239-244.
* Wright, Elizabeth. 1989. "Postmodern Brecht: A Re-Presentation." Critics of the Twentieth Century Ser. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415023307.

References

External links

* [http://www.internationale-heiner-mueller-gesellschaft.de The International Heiner Müller Society (in German)]
* [http://muller-kluge.library.cornell.edu/en/ Conversations between Heiner Müller and Alexander Kluge (in German with English subtitles)]
* [http://www.heinermueller.de/en/index.php The Henschel Schauspiel site for Heiner Müller's work]
* [http://www.efn.org/~dredmond/index.html A site with some decent translations of Müller's works]


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