Otto Ludwig, German dramatist, novelist, musician, and critic, was born into a patrician family at Eisfeld in Thuringia (now East Germany). His father, a middle-class city official, died when Otto was still a child. After his father’s death, Ludwig attended the Gymnasium in Hildburghausen, but his mother withdrew him before he completed the course in 1828. Exposed early in life to music and poetry by his artistic mother, Ludwig continued his musical studies in his leisure time until economic considerations forced him to work for several years in the shop of his merchant uncle. After his mother died, Ludwig entered the Lyzeum in Saalfeld with the intention of completing his preparatory studies. Poor health, however, compelled him to abandon formal study at the school. Privately he continued his musical studies.
Although he was expected to follow a mercantile career, Ludwig preferred the arts and devoted the years from 1834 to 1838 to the study of music. Some of his operatic compositions were produced locally with great success. In 1837, Die Geschwister (the sisters), a Liederspiel (musical play), and in 1838, an opera, Die Köhlerin (the charcoal burner), attracted attention to him in musical circles in Meiningen, the nearby ducal residence. He was granted a stipend by the duke, which made it possible for him to study under Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig in 1839. There, however, he became almost exclusively absorbed in literary...
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