Table of Contents
2. The plot of Er mengt sich in Alles
3. Er mengt sich in Alles and Centlivre’s The Busie Body
4. The premiere of Er mengt sich in Alles
5. What was played on stage?
6. The later reception of Er mengt sich in Alles
7. Summary and conclusion
Appendix: Johann Friedrich Jünger: a biographical sketch
Johann Friedrich Jünger’s Er mengt sich in Alles (roughly “He pries into everything”) is one of five plays currently known to have been published or performed during Mozart’s lifetime that contain references to him. (The others are Kotzebue’s Menschenhaß und Reue, Johann Christoph Kaffka’s Sechs Freyer und keine Braut, Johann Heinrich Frambach's Menschenwerth, and one other still to be posted on this site.) But Jünger’s play is the only one of these five written specifically for Vienna, and it is the only one in which music by Mozart might have been performed on stage. Er mengt sich in Alles was premiered in the Burgtheater in Vienna on 23 Aug 1791, and it was performed there five times in all while Mozart was still alive. It was also performed at least twice in Prague—on 31 Aug and 18 Sep 1791—at the theater of Count Thun during the festivities surrounding the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Er mengt sich in Alles went on to become one of Jünger’s most frequently performed plays and a staple of German-language theater companies for the next several decades, with performances documented at least as late as 1875.
Er mengt sich in Alles was not published until 1793 (with at least three editions that year), but it seems certain that the reference to Mozart was already included in the play as it was first performed in 1791. Michael Lorenz has discovered a letter from Jünger to Johann Franz Hieronymus Brockmann (1745–1812), the director of the Burgtheater at the time, in which Jünger (the theater’s resident playwright) reports having visited Mozart several times to ask him to compose a short piano piece for the play. The letter is undated, but the content makes clear that it was written in 1791 before the premiere of the play, perhaps several months before (see our entry on the letter for a detailed discussion of the dating and its implications). Although it remains uncertain whether Mozart eventually composed something for Er mengt sich in Alles, Jünger’s letter shows that the idea of having a piece by Mozart performed on stage was already under discussion during the play’s gestation.
The reference to Mozart occurs near the beginning of the final act (Act 5). To show how the reference and performance fit into the play as a whole, we begin with a summary of the plot.
The plot of Er mengt sich in Alles(⇧)
“Der alte Herrmann” (Old Herrmann) is a rich but avaricious and miserly man of 63, who refuses to give any financial support to his son Karl. As Karl says in the opening scene, his father will not give him a single “Heller” (⅛ of a Kreuzer), so he must scrape by on his yearly salary of 400 fl, sometimes taking loans at high interest to make ends meet. His father (referred to simply as “Herrmann” throughout the play) is the guardian of Eveline, a young woman ofµ20 who will come into a large fortune (variously described in the play as 40,000 fl or 80,000 fl) when she turns 25—but Herrmann intends to marry her well before then. As Karl says in the opening scene:
Ob er eigentlich das Mädchen heirathen will, oder ihre vierzigtausend Gulden? das weiß ich nicht. Das letzte ist mir aber das wahrscheinlichste.
Whether he actually wants to marry the girl or her forty thousand gulden? That I don’t know. But the latter seems to me the most likely.
Herrman is also guardian of Herr von Plumper (the “Er” of the title), whose nosiness and chronic cluelessness continually disrupt the best-laid plans of his friends (“plump” in German can imply both “clumsy” and “pudgy”).
In the play’s first scene, Karl runs into his friend Baron Willburg during a morning stroll in the Augarten. Willburg is a well-to-do member of the second aristocracy (Karl refers to Willburg’s income of 18,000 a year). He tells Karl that he has fallen in love at first sight with Eveline, whom he has not yet met, and asks Karl if he would speak to her on his behalf, or at least arrange for Willburg to speak with her. Karl explains that he is hardly in position to do this: he is more or less a stranger in his father’s house—his father hasn’t been able to tolerate him ever since he was born.
Karl is in love with Charlotte Mileck, whose father is not well off and has nothing to give her. Mileck has banned Karl from their house because he knows that Karl won’t be able to support Charlotte adequately on his meagre salary. Karl and Charlotte have nevertheless continued to meet secretly whenever they can. In fact, Karl has sent his servant to try to arrange a meeting that very evening.
Karl and Willburg are interrupted by Plumper, who agrees to take a message to Eveline on Willburg’s behalf—although Karl warns of Plumper’s knack for bungling even the simplest plan; he refers to the “Geschichte mit der Kaufmannsfrau” (the business with the merchant’s wife), when Plumper was sent to deliver a secret letter to her, but accidentally gave it to the husband. To avoid a similar disaster, Willburg asks Plumper to tell Eveline verbally that Willburg loves her (Plumper does not get around to delivering this message until Act 3, long after it has become unnecessary). After Karl and Plumper have left, Willburg runs into Herrmann. Willburg asks to meet with Eveline, offering Herrmann 50 ducats for the chance to speak with her for 15 minutes. Herrmann’s counteroffer is 10 minutes for 100 ducats (equivalent at the time to 450 fl, more than Karl’s annual salary), and Herrmann must be present. Willburg agrees.
At the beginning of Act 2, Herrmann, now at home, tells Eveline of the agreement. She is secretly overjoyed, because she reciprocates Willburg’s love, but she feigns a lack of interest, intentionally implying (falsely) that she has already made up her mind to marry Herrmann. She “reluctantly” agrees to see Willburg, and Herrmann insists that she say nothing at all during the meeting.
Karl arrives to ask his father for financial support so that he can marry Charlotte. Herrmann insultingly addresses Karl as “Er”, as if he is a servant, and refuses, saying that Karl’s love for Charlotte is foolish, since she has no money. Willburg then arrives for his exorbitantly priced 10 minutes with Eveline. He greets her with flowery poetic rhetoric (“So ist denn endlich die Morgenröthe meines Glückes angebrochen!”; “So finally the dawn of my happiness has broken!”), but is astonished when she says nothing in return. He quickly guesses the reason and asks if she has been forbidden to speak. She nods, and he surreptitiously drops a note for her on the floor, just as Herrmann comes to escort him out. She quickly reads the note—which asks her to let Willburg know through Plumper when they can meet secretly—then tears it up and scatters it on the floor, telling Herrmann when he returns that she hasn’t read it, and reiterating her (professed) scorn for Willburg. The scene shifts to Mileck’s house. Mileck is away, and Karl arrives for a secret meeting with Charlotte, to tell her of his father’s refusal to give him any support. Eveline arrives, and divulges that she has a plan to hoodwink Herrmann. Plumper enters the house and peeks through the keyhole into Charlotte’s room, seeing Karl and the two women. Mileck (who doesn’t know Plumper) returns and surprises Plumper, saying “who are you and what are you doing here?” Plumper, clueless as usual, responds “Karl knows me,” betraying the fact that Karl is in Charlotte’s room. Charlotte and Eveline emerge and contrive to distract Mileck’s attention as Karl escapes.
The opening of Act 3 is again at Herrmann’s. Eveline gives Herrmann a (false) message that his acquaintance Geißbach expects him in Nußdorf by five o’clock; she begs off accompanying him, saying she has a headache. (In fact, this is her scheme to get Herrmann out of the house so that she can meet with Willburg). Just then Plumper arrives to deliver Willburg’s message from Act 1, and naturally makes a hash of it: he asks Herrmann to leave him alone with Eveline so that he can deliver a message that Herrmann isn’t supposed to hear. Eveline saves the situation by instructing Plumper to tell Willburg not to come to the garden gate at 5 or she’ll have the garden boy give him a beating (Plumper is utterly perplexed by this, but she knows that it will reassure Herrmann, while conveying to Willburg that he definitely should come at 5). She then prepares her trap for Herrmann, convincing him to sign a written release from the requirement that he must approve her marriage, so that it will appear she has chosen to marry Herrmann of her own free will. She also manipulates him into promising to give Karl 1500 a year.
Plumper reports back to Willburg and Karl, apologizing for his stupidity, and he delivers Eveline’s message to Willburg. Karl gives him a coded letter for Charlotte. Karl has been sent a key to the rear door of a closet that opens into Charlotte’s room, and the coded message is his response. Plumper goes to Mileck’s with the letter, but drops it and flees when he sees that Mileck is there. Mileck finds the dropped letter and asks what its mysterious symbols mean. Charlotte’s maid Hannchen claims that it is a charm for toothache.
Willburg arrives at Herrmann’s for his assignation with Eveline, but Herrmann unexpectedly returns, as he has run into Plumper, who has asked for a receipt for a loan. Willburg hides in the Kamin (“chimney,” here meaning the area behind an old-style heating oven). Herrmann wants to retrieve a bottle of good “ungarischer” from the Kamin to take to his acquaintance in Nußdorf, but Eveline claims she has bought a squirrel (Eichhörnchen) from a passing salesman and put it in the Kamin to keep it from escaping out the open window. Herrmann is satisfied with this explanation, and goes out again to leave for Nußdorf. But Plumper, who has come for his receipt, insists on seeing the squirrel and opens the door to the Kamin. Finding Willburg instead, he lets out a cry of surprise, which brings Herrmann back to see what’s going on. With Willburg again in hiding, Eveline and her maid claim that the cry was because the squirrel escaped.
This brings us to the beginning of Act 5, and the scene that refers to Mozart. It is now evening and the scene is Charlotte’s room. Charlotte checks with Hannchen to make sure that she has left the back door unbolted so that Karl will be able to get in and use the key to the closet. Mileck enters in a dressing gown and tells Charlotte that he has decided not to go out to dine after all, and will take his dinner in Charlotte’s room. Will she join him? She nervously replies that she’s not hungry. Thus begins the episode transcribed at the top of this page. If she is not hungry, Mileck says, then why doesn’t she play his favorite sonata while he eats? The piano is terribly out of tune, she says. That’s odd, he replies, because the tuner was just here yesterday. She says she doesn’t know which sonata he means. Mileck responds:
Mileck. Ich weiß nicht, wo du heute ein=
mahl deinen Kopf hast? — Die von Mozart,
die ich so gerne höre. Du hast mir sie ja hun=
Mileck. I don’t know where your head is
today. — The one by Mozart that I like so
much. You’ve played it for me a hundred
The stage direction is somewhat equivocal about what Charlotte should play at this point:
Charlotte macht einige Gänge auf dem Piano=
forte, oder kann auch nach Gutbefinden einen kleinen
Satz aus einer Sonate spielen.
Charlotte plays some passages on the piano,
or if desired can play a short movement from
During or after the music—the stage direction vaguely says “nach demselben”(“after this”; the precise timing seems to have been left to the discretion of the stage director or the actors)—Karl opens the closet door, sees Mileck (who is seated facing the door), and immediately retreats back into the closet. Hannchen, improvising as best she can to cover, shouts “A ghost! A ghost!,” but Mileck, jumping up, says “That has flesh and blood, I’ll wager,” leaps after Karl into the closet, and hauls him out. As Mileck scolds them, Eveline and Willburg arrive, and Eveline informs them all that Herrmann has agreed to let Karl have 1500 a year. Everyone is overjoyed.
The final scene begins with the arrival of Herrmann and Plumper. Mileck asks Herrmann if he is agreeable to Karl and Charlotte’s marriage. He scornfully answers: “Meinetwegen kann er des Großmoguls Tochter heirathen” (“As far as I’m concerned he can marry the Grand Mogul’s daughter”). Herrmann still believes that Eveline wants to marry him, but she now springs her trap: because she has Herrmann’s signed agreement that she does not need his permission to marry, she announces her intention to marry Willburg. Herrmann goes off grumbling about a conspiracy. The play ends with Plumper breaking the fourth wall, probably a relative novelty for Burgtheater audiences at the time. Perpetually nosy, he first begins to follow after Herrmann to see where he is going, but before leaving the stage, turns to the audience and asks:
Aber erst möcht’ ich noch etwas wissen, was mir noch weit mehr am Herzen liegt: was die Herrn und Damen da zu der Geschichte sagen?
But first I still want to know something that is even closer to my heart: what do the gentlemen and ladies out there say to this story?
He stands waiting for an answer as the curtain falls.
Er mengt sich in Alles and Centlivre’s The Busie Body(⇧)
Er mengt sich in Alles is a free adaptation of Susanna Centlivre’s 1709 play The Busie Body, with the action relocated to Vienna. Jünger has also streamlined and condensed the action, removed subplots, and simplified motivations and dialogue. The corresponding characters in Centlivre’s play are Sir George Airy (Baron Willburg), Sir Francis Gripe (Herrmann), Charles (Karl), Miranda (Eveline), Marplot (Plumper), Sir Jealous Traffick (Mileck), Isabinda (Charlotte), and Patch (Hannchen). In The Busie Body, Sir Jealous is a merchant who has lived for some time in Spain and is a fan of Spanish customs. He wants to become a member of Parliament in order to introduce a bill to force women to wear veils, as they do in Spain. He has promised his daughter Isabinda (Charlotte) to a Spanish merchant, Don Diego Babinetto.
The model for the scene with music comes considerably earlier in Centlivre’s play, near the beginning of Act 4. (In Centlivre’s version, the denouement in Act 5 involves Charles disguised in Spanish costume pretending to be Don Diego, a subplot that Jünger has entirely discarded.) In Act 4 of The Busie Body, Charles has arranged to visit Isabinda in secret while her father is out, and just as in Jünger’s version, he is to gain access to Isabinda’s room through an interior closet to which he has been given a key (although he enters the house through a window by means of a rope ladder, rather than through an unbolted back door). Sir Jealous (Mileck) unexpectedly decides to stay at home (he is suspicious of the coded letter) and comes to Isabinda’s room to take his dinner. Sir Jealous asks her to join him, but she will not. He asks for a song instead (no specific song or composer are mentioned). She replies that she has a cold, and can scarcely speak, much less sing. In that case, says Sir Jealous, she can play upon the spinet while her maid Patch sings. After various delaying tactics, the women begin, and Patch (according to the stage direction) “Sings, but horridly out of Tune.” Hearing the music, Charles pulls open the closet door and joins in before realising that Isabinda’s father is present. The two women manage to buy enough time (in this version) for Charles to escape, unlike Jünger’s version, where Mileck catches Karl and drags him out of the closet.
Centlivre’s characters are generally wordier than their counterparts in Jünger’s version, and their dialogue contains a good deal of clever wordplay and punning. Jünger has generally omitted such wordplay and made the dialogue more natural. The most thoroughly redrawn character in Jünger’s version is Herrmann. The model for Herrmann, Sir Francis, likewise wants to marry his ward for her fortune, and the basic elements of this subplot are the same (Sir Francis charges Sir George 100 guineas to speak with Miranda for 10 minutes, and Miranda hoodwinks Sir Francis in a similar manner). But Jünger has made Herrmann even less sympathetic. His mannerisms of speech make him seem conniving and untrustworthy: he continually repeats phrases, as if calculating his next move as he speaks, and he repeatedly uses the word “Männchen” (little man, manikin) to refer to other male characters (the word occurs around 70 times in the play, always in Herrmann’s part). Jünger immediately establishes these characteristic mannerisms at Herrmann’s first appearance (Act 1, scene 5), when he meets Willburg in the Augarten:
Willburg. Ach! Freund Herrmann! siehe
Herrmann. Guten Morgen, Männ=
chen! — guten Morgen — guten Morgen!
Willburg. Was machen Sie denn schon
so frühe auf?
Herrmann. Selzerwasser trink’ ich, Männ=
chen! — Selzerwasser.
Willburg. Selzerwasser? — Wenn ich
an Ihrer Stelle wär’ — ich tränk’ lieber China
Herrmann. Warum denn, Männchen,
warum denn? Ich habe, Gott sey Lob, noch
Kräfte genug, Männchen! ich habe noch Kräf=
te. Ich bin aus einem dauerhaften Stamme,
ich! — Mein Vater und Großvater sind über
neunzig alt geworden; — mein Vater und
Großvater — und der alte Herrmann denkt’s
auch zu werden; ja ja, ja — denkt’s auch zu
Willburg. Ah! Friend Herrmann! Look
Herrmann. Good morning, little man!
— Good morning — Good morning!
Willburg. What are you doing here
Herrmann. Drinking seltzer, little man!
Willburg. Seltzer? — If I were in your
position — I’d rather drink China with Tokay.
Herrmann. But why, little man,
but why? I, God be praised, still have
plenty of strength. I am from durable stock,
I am! — My father and grandfather lived to
over ninety; — My father and grandfather —
and Old Herrmann thinks he’ll also last that
long; yes yes, yes — thinks he’ll also last that long.
(“China” refers to China bark [quillaia], thought to have medicinal properties when mixed with spirits to create a liqueur; see here for a recipe. Herrmann is saying that he comes from hardy and long-lived stock, and is not yet in need of a medicinal.) These verbal quirks are Jünger’s invention; nothing analogous appears in the part of Centlivre’s Sir Francis.
Three different characters in Er mengt sich in Alles use “Jude” (Jew) as a derogatory epithet in referring to Herrmann. For example, Plumper says in Act 1, scene 2:
O, Karl! dein Vater ist ein Jude, ein verdammter unchristlicher Jude, sage ich dir.
Oh Karl, your father is a Jew, a damned unchristian Jew, I tell you.
Herrmann’s obsession with money, his money lending, and his untrustworthiness would have been taken by eighteenth-century audiences as stereotypical Jewish traits. The model for Herrmann in Centlivre’s play, Sir Francis, is called a “Jew” just once, but Jünger has drawn on the antisemitism of his time and place to expand on this trope in order to make Herrmann seem thoroughly unsympathetic. The implication is not that Herrmann is a Jew, but that he is like a Jew.
Jünger had keen theatrical instincts, with an emphasis on the forward momentum of action and plot. In adapting Centlivre’s witty but wordy original, he painted the characters in broader strokes, emphasized the farcical elements, and pruned excess verbiage (including all of the witty wordplay) and subplots. Nineteenth-century critics praised the naturalness of Jünger’s dialogue, while recognizing that motivation was not his strong point and that he tended to fall back on favorite tropes of character and plot, such as the guardian who wants to marry his ward. Jünger’s strengths and weaknesses are both evident in Er mengt sich in Alles, where the broad and breathless comedy seems to have kept audiences laughing for several decades, even though the characters’ motivations do not always bear close scrutiny. Jünger’s letter to Brockmann demonstrates his concern with dramatic momentum. After explaining to Brockmann that he has been to Mozart several times to ask him to compose a short piece for Er mengt sich in Alles, he continues:
[...] Uebrigens glaube ich nach näherer Prüfung, daß diese
Composition gar füglich wegbleibe, und an ihrer Statt das
erste beste liedchen gespielt werden kann, weil mir eine Mu=
sik in welcher sich die Schauspielerin als Flügelspielerin zeigt,
da nicht recht an ihrer Stelle zu seÿn scheint, da die Aufmerk=
samkeit der Zuschauer auf den Ausgang des Stücks gespannt ist.
[...] Besides, I think on closer examination that this
composition can even be omitted with justification, and in its
stead any little song can be played; because it seems to me that
a musical piece in which the actress shows herself off as
a keyboard player is not right for this scene, as the attention
of the spectator is in suspense over the outcome of the play.
In other words: however amusing their original idea might have seemed—that Charlotte should play a piece by Mozart written especially for this scene—Jünger was now concerned that it would interrupt the forward momentum of the plot. Given that he had already relocated this scene from the fourth act (where it occurs in Centlivre’s original) to the fifth, and used Karl’s emergence from the closet as the trigger to the denouement, his concern was understandable.
The premiere of Er mengt sich in Alles(⇧)
Er mengt sich in Alles premiered in the Burgtheater on Tue, 23 Aug 1791. The second half of August was a particularly inauspicious time to introduce a new play that year: much of the Burgtheater’s core audience of subscribers, the upper nobility, had already left Vienna (or was preparing to leave) for the coronation in Prague of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Jünger’s comments to Brockmann in a letter dated 27 Aug 1791 (ÖNB, Jünger 8/124-2) show that Brockmann himself had departed by the date of the premiere of Er mengt sich in Alles on 23 Aug, and that he had left Jünger in charge of daily affairs and programming at the Burgtheater while he was away. Mozart himself may also have already left for Prague before the premiere: although the exact date of his departure remains unknown, he arrived in Prague on 28 Aug. Even if Mozart was still in Vienna on the evening of 23 Aug, it is highly unlikely that he would have gone to the theater, given his mad rush to finish La clemenza di Tito in time for its performance in Prague on the evening of 6 Sep, the day of the coronation. Er mengt sich in Alles was, in fact, the only premiere in the Burgtheater in August that year. It was the first since Joseph Marius Babo’s Bürgerglück on 20 Jul, and there was not another premiere in the Burgtheater until Paisiello’s I zingari in fiera on 18 Sep, after the nobility had begun to trickle back to Vienna. (On the schedule and attendance at the Burgtheater during these months, see the commentary to 5 Oct 1791.)
In spite of the unfavorable timing, Er mengt sich in Alles had a distinguished cast:
Der alte Herrmann
Friedrich Wilhelm Schütz (1750–1800)
Friedrich Joseph Müller (1768–1834)
Johanna Franul von Weissenthurn (1773–1847)
Joseph Weidmann (1742–1810)
Philipp Klingmann (1762–1824)
Johann Heinrich Friedrich Müller (1738–1815)
Josepha Hortensia Müller (1766–1807)
Henriette Dauer (1758–1843)
(Other minor roles were Eveline’s maid Lieschen, Karl’s servant Johann, and a waiter.)
The young Johanna Franul von Weissenthurn was at the beginning of a long and very illustrious career as an actress and playwright in the Burgtheater. The well-known comic actor Joseph Weidmann had been with ensemble since 1773. Philipp Klingmann had just joined the company in 1791, but was also at the beginning of a long and successful career in the Burgtheater. Friedrich Joseph Müller and Josepha Hortensia Müller were children of Johann Heinrich Friedrich Müller, one of the most beloved actors of the Viennese court theater and a member of the company since 1763. Thus Karl and Charlotte were played by brother and sister, and Mileck and Charlotte by father and daughter. Josepha is listed on the poster for the premiere as “Mlle. Müller.” On 10 Oct 1791 she married the eminent painter Heinrich Friedrich Füger, and the poster for the performance on 28 Oct 1791 refers to her as “Mad. Füger.” (For a facsimile of the entry for their marriage in the registry of St. Michael’s church in Vienna, and for Füger’s beautiful portrait of his wife, see our entry for 11 Aug 1788.)
Er mengt sich in Alles was given six times in the Burgtheater that season, on 23 Aug, 25 Aug, 4 Sep, 22 Sep, and 28 Oct 1791, and 12 Feb 1792. In his letter of 27 Aug 1791, Jünger wrote to Brockmann that a cabal against the play had been planned for the premiere, but nothing much came of it:
Noch geht alles friedlich und ruhig beÿ der Gesellschaft. Mein neues Stück, er mengt sich in alles, sollte, wie mir verschiedenen Leute sagen, das erste mahl ausgepfiffen werden. Das Complott war vermuthlich von abgewießenen Autoren gemacht. Es ging aber, bis auf einiges Zischen, als es wieder animirt wurde, ganz gut ab. [ÖNB, Jünger 8/124-2]
Otherwise everything is peaceful and quiet with the company. My new play, Er mengt sich in Alles, was, as various people told me, supposed to be booed at the first performance. It was probably a plot of rejected authors. However, apart from a few hisses, after things carried on, it came off quite well.
(Part of Jünger’s responsibility as Hoftheaterdichter was to evaluate plays submitted to the Burgtheater; Jünger alludes to this function in his undated letter to Brockmann in 1791. His implication here is that authors who had had plays rejected by the court theater organized a cabal against Er mengt sich in Alles because they held Jünger responsible, at least in part, for their rejection.)
The box-office receipts from the premiere were a solid if not spectacular 248 fl 3 kr, better than all four opera performances that week, but far less than the 497 fl 26 kr brought in by the fifth performance of Babo’s Bürgerglück two days earlier, on 21 Aug.
The receipts from the second performance of Er mengt sich in Alles on Thu, 25 Aug were a modest 140 fl 25 kr; Jünger was exaggerating a bit when he wrote to Brockmann on 27 Aug that the house had been “ganz hübsch voll” (“quite nicely full”) at the second performance. More notable for Jünger was the presence at the second performance of Empress Maria Luisa, along with one of her daughters:
Das zweÿte mahl war das Theater ganz hübsch voll; auch die Kaÿßerin kam, ein Beweiß daß es der Erzherzogin welche das erste mahl da war nicht mißfallen hat. Auch diese war wieder da.
The second time the theater was quite nicely full; the Empress also came, proof that it hadn’t displeased the Archduchess, who was at the first performance. She also came again.
The Empress herself was soon to leave for Prague: she and four of her children departed Vienna on the morning of Sat, 27 Aug (WZ, no. 69, Sat, 27 Aug 1791, 2225), and arrived in Prague on 30 Aug.
Er mengt sich in Alles continued to take in respectable receipts—209 fl 55 kr on 4 Sep, 198 fl 39 kr on 22 Sep, and 220 fl 51 kr on 28 Oct (when it was given along with Schröder’s Die Heurath durch ein Wochenblatt). It even took in 237 fl 56 kr at its final performance of the season on 12 Feb 1792, when it played opposite Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto in the Kärntnertortheater, the fifth performance of that opera, already well on its way to becoming one of the court theater’s greatest hits of the era (on that date, Jünger’s play was followed by Johann Christian Bock’s one-act comedy Der Bettler).
Er mengt sich in Alles was also given twice in Prague by the company of Franz Seconda during the festivities surrounding the coronation, both times in the theater of Count Thun: on Wed, 31 Aug, when it was performed together with Kotzebue’s one-act comedy Der weibliche Jakobiner Club (The Female Jacobin Club; Tagebuch 1791, 124); and on Sun, 18 Sep (Krönungsjournal 1791, 8. Stück, 498; see also Procházka 1892, 177, continuation of note 51). Although we have yet to uncover direct evidence that Brockmann was in Prague for the coronation, we know that he left Vienna before the premiere of Jünger’s play, and it seems very likely that Prague was his destination. At any rate, he was probably the conduit for the copy of the play used for the performances in Prague.
Could Mozart have attended a performance of Er mengt sich in Alles? We do not know exactly when Mozart left for Prague, only that he arrived on 28 Aug (Dokumente, 352). Empress Maria Luisa arrived in Prague on 30 Aug, the fourth day after leaving Vienna. But the journey from Vienna to Prague could be made in as little as two days, if one was in a hurry. Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, during his tour of German-language theaters in 1791 (see our entry for 1 May 1791), left Vienna around midday on 30 May and arrived in Prague around midday on 1 Jun (Meyer 1819, ii/1:90). Mozart, under severe time pressure to complete La clemenza di Tito, would have been in a hurry, and would probably have wanted to spend as little time on the road as possible, given that bouncing and bumping coaches were not ideal places for writing down music. Thus it seems possible that Mozart would still have been in Vienna on the day of the premiere of Er mengt sich in Alles, 23Aug. But given the looming deadline for the opera, it seems unlikely that he would have attended the play even if he was still in town. Theoretically, he could also have attended the performance of Er mengt sich in Alles in Prague on 31 Aug, but again one suspects, given the imminent premiere of his opera, that he probably did not.
We do not know exactly when Mozart left Prague after the coronation, or exactly when he got back to Vienna, although he was presumably anxious to return to prepare for the premiere of Die Zauberflöte on 30 Sep. He entered the Overture to that opera and the March of the Priests into his Verzeichnüß (his catalog of his own works) on 28 Sep, and he almost certainly composed these numbers only after returning to Vienna (the Overture is written on a type of paper that he acquired only after his return). It is conceivable, then, that he might still have been in Prague for the performance of Er mengt sich in Alles on 18 Sep; on the other hand he might have been back in Vienna in time for the performance there on 22 Sep (but probably not both).
However, he was certainly in Vienna for the performance of Jünger’s play on 28 Oct 1791, and so far as we know, nothing would have prevented him from attending that evening. We currently have no positive evidence that he did attend, but given Jünger and Brockmann’s request during the play’s genesis that he compose something for it (whether or not he ended up doing so), he probably knew that his name was mentioned in the play and that a piece of his might be performed on stage. So one suspects he would at least have had sufficient interest to attend.
What was played on stage?(⇧)
The stage directions in Er mengt sich in Alles state that Charlotte should play something on the piano in this scene (“Pianoforte” is specified), but are vague about what she should play: either “einige Gänge” (“some passages”) or if desired, “ein kleiner Satz aus einer Sonate” (“a short movement from a sonata”). No composer is specified in the stage direction. However, for a Viennese audience in 1791, hearing Mileck say Mozart’s name would surely have led them to expect to hear a piece that they recognized. But in the absence of additional evidence, we cannot say whether anything beyond “passages” were actually played: perhaps Charlotte simply played a scale or two, as if to warm up, Karl opened the closet door, and all hell broke loose. Or perhaps Jünger and Brockmann had Charlotte play at least part of some already well-known piece by Mozart—it would not have taken more than a short extract for the musical cognoscenti in the audience to be able to recognize a familiar melody or opening gesture.
So far, we have considered only the earliest printed editions of Er mengt sich in Alles from 1793. But a prompter’s copy of Er mengt sich in Alles survives from the collection of the Viennese court theater (now in the Österreichisches Theatermuseum, M 2249). It is undated, but “3. Dec 798” is written in pencil on page 80 (the reason for the entry is unknown). Er mengt sich in Alles was, in fact, performed in the Burgtheater on that date; it was the 28th performance of the play overall by the court theater, and the play had been continually in the repertory since its premiere, with never fewer than three performances per year over that period. So there is a reasonably good chance that the surviving prompter’s copy is the original one from 1791, not a replacement (it seems unlikely that the original would have worn out already by 1798). But we cannot be sure.
If this is the original prompter’s copy, then it is the earliest known source for the play.
In the scene of interest to us here, there are no substantive textual differences between the prompter’s copy and the three editions from 1793, but there are numerous small differences in spelling and punctuation, and one trivial difference of word order: all editions from 1793 give “Du hast mir sie ja hundertmahl vorgespielt,” whereas the prompter’s copy has “du hast sie mir ja hundertmal vorgespielt.” Although such differences are not substantive, their frequency strongly suggests that the prompter’s copy was not based on one of the printed editions, and this supposition is, in turn, consistent with the hypothesis that the prompter’s copy predates the printed editions. All things considered then, it seems likely that the surviving prompter’s copy dates from the original production in 1791. If this is correct, it shows that the reference to Mozart was already included in the script of Er mengt sich in Alles at the premiere in 1791.
The text of the stage direction for this scene in the prompter’s copy is, apart from minor variants of punctuation and spelling, exactly as it appears in the printed editions. Thus it gives us no additional help in determining what was played on stage during the early performances. But it does add to our uncertainty in a different way: in the prompter’s copy, this portion of the scene (including the reference to Mozart and the stage direction referring to Charlotte playing something on the piano) is cancelled in pencil, but then also (apparently) reinstated with the word “bleibt” (“remains”).
At present, we have no way of knowing when (or whether) this cut was actually in force for any particular performances of the play. Later layers of alteration to the prompter’s copy (including paste-overs) show that it remained in use well into the nineteenth century. So the cancellation (and reinstatement) of the “Mozart scene” could have been made at any time while the prompter’s copy was in use, from 1791 until whenever it was finally replaced (if it was replaced). Although it seems quite unlikely that the cut dates from the original production, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that it does.
In our commentary on Jünger’s undated letter to Brockmann in 1791, we consider in detail all known possibilities of works and fragments by (or attributed to) Mozart that could be associated with their request that he compose something for Er mengt sich in Alles. There are not many: the possibilities are the variations on “Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding auf der Welt,” K. 613; the fragments K. 357 and K. 312; and the Minuet in D, K. 355. The cases for each can be quickly summarized; all have problems, but to varying degrees. All depend on the date of Jünger’s letter, which remains uncertain. As we show in our commentary on the letter, it dates from between 12 Mar 1791 and mid August. One reference in the letter lends support to a date early in that period, perhaps the second half of March. Of the pieces themselves, only K. 613 and K. 357 can be securely dated to 1791. The other two could possibly date from that year, but they could also be earlier.
- K. 613 is a full set of variations on “Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding,” whereas Jünger asked Mozart for a “short movement.” Judging by its position in Mozart’s catalog of his own works, he apparently finished the set sometime in March (after the 8th) or perhaps in early April 1791, and it was issued in a printed edition by Artaria in Vienna in June. These dates, together with its length, might seem to rule it out as a possibility for Er mengt sich in Alles. If, however, Jünger’s letter dates from as early as mid March 1791, before Mozart finished the work, it is conceivable that Jünger and Brockmann’s request served as a trigger for the composition, and that part of it was performed in Jünger’s play.
- The fragment K. 357, a humorous movement in G-major for piano 4-hands, also certainly dates from 1791 (judging by its paper-type). Although Jünger in his letter seems to refer to Charlotte playing a piece for solo piano, in our commentary on the letter we argue that Jünger and Brockmann might originally have had the idea of having the real-life father and daughter, J. H. F. Müller and Josepha Müller, play a duet in their roles as the fictional father and daughter Mileck and Charlotte. This is entirely speculative, as there is no direct evidence that Jünger and Brockmann considered having a duet. But Centlivre’s The Busie Body specifies a duo in the analogous scene—a song performed by Isabinda and her maid—and Jünger refers in his letter to a “little song” as a possibility in this scene, perhaps reflecting what was done in The Busie Body.
- The fragment K. 312 consists of the exposition and development of a sonata movement in G minor. The serious mood of this fragment does not suit Jünger’s play stylistically, and its dating is uncertain: 1791 is possible, but so are 1790 and late 1789. it is, however, the only one of the four possibilities that is actually a sonata, as Mileck specifies in Er mengt sich in Alles.
- No autograph is known to survive for the Minuet K. 355, and its primary source is a printed edition from 1801. Even assuming that it is actually by Mozart and was originally for piano solo, there is no evidence apart from its style that allows us to date it precisely.
Thus none of the four possibilities is completely persuasive, and it remains entirely possible that Mozart never wrote anything at all in response to Jünger and Brockmann’s request. Jünger himself, as we know from his letter, expressed reservations about the wisdom of having Charlotte interrupt the dramatic momentum at that point in the play by performing on the piano.
But if it was eventually decided that a piece by Mozart should be played in that scene, it would presumably have made sense to choose one that the audience was likely to know. This would not have been the case if Charlotte had performed a brand new, unpublished piece by Mozart. If Mozart had composed something brand new for Er mengt sich in Alles, it would have made sense to advertise the fact, but there is no known evidence of any such advertisement on the posters or anywhere else. However, this caveat does not apply to K. 613, which was first advertised by Artaria on 4 Jun 1791, more than two and a half months before the premiere of Er mengt sich in Alles on 23 Aug 1791. Given the date of the premiere, it is notable that copyist Laurenz Lausch first advertised manuscript copies of K. 613 in the Wiener Zeitung on 27 Aug 1791—the same issue, as it happens, in which the premiere of Jünger’s play was first mentioned.
The later reception of Er mengt sich in Alles(⇧)
Jünger’s play held the stage until past the middle of the nineteenth century, and was published in several editions. Just as with Kotzebue’s Menschenhaß und Reue, subsequent editions of Er mengt sich in Alles retain the reference to Mozart, and one supposes that performances of the play usually retained the reference as well; as Mozart’s fame grew after his death, there would have been all the more reason to retain the reference and to have a recognizable piece by him played in this scene.
Er mengt sich in Alles remained in the repertory of the Burgtheater until 10 Aug 1853 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, ii:55), receiving 88 performances in all over that period. The play was performed twice in Prague in 1791, on 31 Aug and 18 Sep, during the festivities surrounding the coronation of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The company of Franz Seconda, which gave the performances in Prague, went on to give the first performance in Leipzig, on 25 Sep 1791 (Blümner 1818, 526). Er mengt sich in Alles was first performed at the Nationaltheater in Berlin on 28 Nov 1791 (Annalen des Theaters, ix:71), and it seems to have been an immediate hit there: it was given five more times by the end of the year (thus already outstripping the number of performances in Vienna by that point), and nine times in 1792. The play was first performed in Mannheim on 15 May 1792 (Walter 1899, ii:328), and it was given three times in all that year, three times in 1793, then twice a year for the next several years. Beginning in 1797 performances became more sporadic, but Walter records performances in 1798 (1x), 1800 (1x), 1801 (2x), and 1803 (1x), the last year covered by his Spielplan. Er mengt sich in Alles was first performed in Weimar under the title Eveline on 26 Feb 1793, and it was given 41µtimes in all through 24 Nov 1823 (usually under the title Eveline or Er mischt sich in Alles; see Theater und Musik in Weimar 1754–1969).
There is no existing literature on the performance history of this play, or, for that matter, on the performance histories and reception of Jünger’s plays in general. But even a quick search of “er mengt sich in alles” (quoted) on Google Books turns up a wide variety of references to performances in the early decades of the nineteenth century. To take just one example: in 1841 the journal Sundine. Unterhaltungsblatt für Neu-Vorpommern und Rügen reported on a performance in Stralsund on 18 Oct 1841:
Montag, den 18ten: “Er mengt sich in Alles,” Lustspiel in
5 Acten, von Jünger, und: “Die Wiener in Berlin,” Liederposse
in 1 Act, von E. von Holtey, mit neuen Musik=Einlagen. Die
alten Jüngerschen Meisterstücke figuriren doch immer noch auf allen
deutschen Bühnen, wenn man gleich nöthig gefunden, sie hie und
da etwas zeitgemäßer zuzustutzen. Darauf sollte denn auch die Be=
merkung “Neu einstudirt” auf dem heutigen Theaterzettel hinweisen,
welche sich bei älteren Stücken jetzt häufig findet. [...]
[Sundine, no. 43, 27 Oct 1841, 343]
Monday, the 18th: Er mengt sich in Alles, comedy in
5 acts by Jünger, and Die Wiener in Berlin, farce with
songs in 1 act by E. von Holtey, with new musical insertions.
The old masterpieces of Jünger still appear today on all
German stages, even though it has sometimes been found
necessary to update them here and there. In this case the
poster for today’s performance should have carried the
notice “new production”, as is now frequently done with
older plays. [...]
Although the German expression “er mengt sich in Alles” predates Jünger’s play, the longevity and popularity of the play itself undoubtedly played a role in the choice of a title for the short-lived Viennese satirical newspaper Er mengt sich in Alles. Humoristisch-satirisches Zeitschrift in 1848.
The final performance of Er mengt sich in Alles in the Burgtheater in Vienna took place on 10 Aug 1853 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:58). The Göschen publishing house in Leipzig, which had published one of the earliest editions of the play in 1793, reissued it in 1861 as the fourth item in the first volume of Jünger’s Komisches Theater. Apart from a handful of minor spelling updates, the scene referring to Mozart in this edition is identical to Göschen’s edition of 1793.
The play was still occasionally done even later in the nineteenth century. For example, an amateur group, the Liebhaber Theater Gesellschaft Liptingen (which still exists), asked for permission from the local police in Liptingen to give performances of Er mengt sich in Alles in early 1875, its inaugural season:
[28 Dec 1874]
der Liebhaber Theater Gesell=
polizeiliche Erlaubniß zur
Aufführung von Theater=
Die Theater Gesellschaft zu Liptingen
beabsichtigt die Theaterstüke
“Philippine Welser” v. Oskar Redwiz
“Er mengt sich in alles” v. Jünger
am 6. 10. 17. und 24. Januar, oder vielleicht
statt am lezteren Tage am 2. Februar
1875 jeweils Nachmittags 3. und Abends
7. Uhr im Gasthaus zur Sonne dahier,
mit den Stüken je abwechselnd, mit
Erhebung von Eintrittsgeldern zur Be=
streitung der Auslagen, aufzuführen.
[see the facsimile at the website of the
Theatergesellschaft, Liptingen; transcription
[28 Dec 1874]
To the esteemed mayor’s office,
from the Amateur Theater
Society of Liptingen
regard to police permission
for the performance of
The Theater Society in Liptingen
proposes to perform the plays
Philippine Welser by Oskar [von] Redwiz
Er mengt sich in Alles by Jünger
on 6, 10, 17, and 24 January, or perhaps
instead of the last, 2 February 1875,
each time at 3 in the afternoon and 7 in
the evening in the Gasthaus zur Sonne here,
with the plays alternating, and the collection
of an entry fee to cover the costs. [...]
Unlike Kotzebue, whose most successful plays, such as Menschenhaß und Reue, were translated into many languages and became popular on foreign stages in translation, Er mengt sich in Alles seems to have been translated relatively infrequently. (Given that it was based on an English original, it may have seemed less sensible to translate it “second hand,” so to speak). A manuscript prompter’s copy survives of a Danish translation of Er mengt sich in Alles under the title Han blander sig i alt eller Han har sin Næse Allevegne, and that translation was given 49 times in the Danish National Theater between Nov 1794 and Feb 1835 (Aumont & Collin 1897, 334–36). A Czech translation attributed to Josef W. Žák was published under the title Do wsseho se plete in 1840 (“wsseho” = “všeho” in modern spelling).
Ironically, given Mozart’s popularity in Prague during his lifetime, this version is the only one found so far in which the reference to Mozart is changed: in Žák’s version, the character Mrzuta (Mileck) asks Marie (Charlotte) for something from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Summary and conclusion(⇧)
The newly discovered references to Mozart in Jünger’s play and letter raise more questions than they answer. It has not been our intention to provide definitive answers here, but rather to raise what seem to us the most important questions and to examine a range of plausible answers consistent with the known evidence. In the end, Mozart may or may not have composed or started to compose a piece in response to Jünger and Brockmann’s request; at this point, we simply cannot be sure. If he did, and the result survives in whole or in part, then the range of candidates among his known works is quite limited. Just four piano pieces by or attributed to Mozart date from 1791 or could possibly date from that year: the variations K. 613, the fragments K. 357 and K. 312, and the Minuet in D, K. 355. K. 312 seems unlikely on stylistic grounds, and given the multiple uncertainties over K. 355, it is probably a long shot. The cases for K. 613 and K. 357, while not unproblematic, may be the best bets for future research.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of our discovery, however, is simply that Jünger and Brockmann had the idea in the first place. For them, Mozart’s reputation in Vienna in 1791 was evidently such that it made good theatrical sense to refer to him in a play and to ask him to compose something for it. Topical references to local composers seem to have been exceedingly rare in stage works mounted in Vienna at that time: in fact, the reference to Mozart in Er mengt sich in Alles is, so far as we know, the only example of a local composer being mentioned on stage in a play written for the Burgtheater, and it is the only such play with a stage direction implying that something by that composer could be performed. It is also notable that Jünger and Brockmann asked Mozart rather than someone else; they did not, so far as we know, approach other local composers known for their keyboard works, such as Kozeluch, Vanhal, or Hoffmeister.
Although we do not know if Jünger and Brockmann were consciously aware of the association, opera lovers in the Burgtheater audience would have found it amusing that music by Mozart triggered the emergence of a character who had been hiding in a closet. Susanna emerging from the closet in the second-act finale of Le nozze di Figaro would have been a recent memory for many in the audience: the final performance of the successful Viennese revival of Figaro had taken place on that same stage on 9 Feb 1791. Although it may be just a coincidence, this is just one month before the earliest possible date of Jünger’s letter to Brockmann that mentions Mozart.
Appendix: Johann Friedrich Jünger: a biographical sketch(⇧)
Johann Friedrich Jünger—like Kotzebue, Schröder, and Iffland—is a writer whose plays were frequently performed during his lifetime and for several decades after his death, but who gradually fell out of the active repertory in the mid nineteenth century and is largely forgotten today. After Jünger’s plays disappeared from the repertory, interest in his life and work waned rapidly, and little or no new research has been done on him since the early years of the twentieth century. It is indicative that Jakob Minor’s article on Jünger in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (1881) is around 1425 words, followed by a detailed list of works, whereas Roswitha Fischer’s article in Neue Deutsche Biographie (1974) is around 450 words, less than one-third the length, with a highly curtailed list of works. Wurzbach (1863), writing when performances of Jünger’s plays were still in living memory, devotes around 770 words to Jünger’s biography and around 1800 to his works, including a detailed assessment of their literary merits (and weaknesses). But today, when Jünger’s biography has been neglected for nearly a century, it is not difficult to uncover new facts about him, and we are able to offer several here.
All sources agree that Jünger was born in Leipzig on 15 Feb, but disagree about the year. Many early biographies, including Jördens (1807), Gräffer & Czikann (1835), Wurzbach, Jakob Minor in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, and Goedeke (1916), state that he was born in 1759. An obituary in the Intelligenzblatt der Allgemeinen Literatur–Zeitung (1798, no. 17, 27 Jan, cols. 130–32), on the other hand, gives 1757, and this year is also given by Wedekind (1921), apparently the only dissertation ever written on Jünger. Fischer, in Neue Deutsche Biographie, states that Jünger’s date of birth was “15.2.1756 (nicht 1757/59),” explicitly contradicting these earlier sources, but without citing a source for the new date. (No item in Fischer’s bibliography gives 1756 as the year of Jünger’s birth.) As we will show, a book published in Leipzig in 1784, when Jünger still lived there, states that he was born in 1755, and that year seems most likely to be the correct one.
Jünger lived in Vienna from 1787 until his death on 25 Feb 1797. The most frequently cited birth year, 1759, seems ultimately to derive from his death notice in the Wiener Zeitung (1797, no. 20, Sat, 11 Mar, 744), which gives his age as 38:
Verstorbene zu Wien.
Den 25. Februar. [...]
Vor der Stadt.
Hr. Joh. Fried. Junger [sic], gew. k. k. Hoftheaterdichter,
alt 38 J. auf d. Landstr. N. 222.
Deaths in Vienna.
On 25 February. [...]
In the Suburbs
Herr Johann Friedrich Jünger, former k. k. Hoftheaterdichter,
aged 38, at Landstraße 222.
Whichever biographer first gave 1759 as the year of Jünger’s birth will have reasoned that if he died on 25 Feb and was born on 15 Feb, he would have turned 38 just ten days before his death, so he must have been born in 1759. Jünger’s age is also given as 38 in the Landstraße Sterbebuch (probably the original source of the information), which also notes that he died of “Nervenfieber” and was Protestant. However, there is no reason to think that any of Jünger’s biographers consulted the Sterbebuch or the Viennese Totenbeschauprotokoll, which also gives his age as 38. So the notice in the Wiener Zeitung is the mostly likely source of the notion that Jünger was 38 at the time of his death and it is probably the implicit (if uncited) justification for the claim that he was born in 1759.
However, Jünger was not born in Vienna, never married, and was Protestant, so there is no particularly compelling reason to think that the age given in these sources is correct. The functionary making the entry in the Sterbebuch would have had no obvious reliable informant for Jünger’s age: Jünger left no wife, had no children that we know of, and no relatives in Vienna; and since he was not born in Vienna, there was no local record of his birth or baptism that could easily be checked. The age may simply have been someone’s best guess.
The principal source for Jünger’s early biography is Jünger himself: he included a short autobiographical sketch in a letter dated 25 Sep 1785 to Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg, head of the theater in Mannheim (a substantial extract of the letter is published in Uhde 1877). The first part of the letter has to do with Jünger’s five-act comedy Verstand und Leichtsinn, which had its world premiere in Vienna a few months later, on 12 Feb 1786, and was first performed in Mannheim on 1 Oct 1786 (Walter 1899, ii:301). After informing Dalberg that he will not be able to send a copy of Verstand und Leichtsinn until after its Viennese premiere, Jünger continues with a brief account of his life up to that point, by way of explaining why he has not yet decided whether to submit a play to the prize competition in Mannheim that year:
Ob ich es wagen werde, um den von der dasigen gelehrten Gesellschaft ausgesetzten Preis zu wetteifern, weiß ich in der That nicht. Ich glaube kaum, daß es einen Schriftsteller giebt, der gegen sich selbst mißtrauischer ist, als ich! Ob ich Recht oder Unrecht dazu habe, weiß ich nicht; ich weiß nur, daß ich es bin. Vielleicht ist das eine Folge meiner ganzen Art, zu studieren, welche aus Mangel vernünftiger Rathgeber äußerst verkehrt und verworren war; vielleicht auch eine Folge meines ganzen Lebenslauf. [Uhde 1877, 417]
Whether I will venture to compete for the prize offered by the learned society there, I don’t in fact know. I can hardly believe that there is a writer who is more mistrustful of himself than I am! Whether I’m right or wrong about this I don’t know; I know only that I am this way. Perhaps it is a consequence of my entire manner of study, which from lack of sensible advice was jumbled and confused; perhaps also a consequence of my entire life story.
Jünger then goes on to summarize his early life and education. He writes that he was apprenticed at 14 to a merchant in Chemnitz, where he remained for four years, at the end of which he realized “daß ich schlechterdings nichts von dem gelernt hatte, was ein nur mittelmäßiger Kaufmann wissen muß” (“that I simply had learned nothing from him that even a mediocre merchant must know”). From the records of Jünger’s estate (his Verlassenschaftsabhandlung, Vienna, Stadt- und Landesarchiv, Mag. ZG, A2, 238/1797), we learn that his apprenticeship was probably with his uncle, Johann Gottfried Jünger, who was, in fact, a merchant in Chemnitz. Jünger’s estate records also give the name of his mother, Johanna Christina, née Müller von Beranek. (The name of Jünger’s father remains unknown.)
The writer Christian Felix Weiße, a relation of Jünger’s, suggested that he go to university. Jünger continues:
Ich that es, plagte mich fast zwey Jahre mit Schulwissenschaften, hörte dann juristische Collegien, und that das aus Mangel hinlänglicher Einsicht mit der größten Unordnung, ohne allen Plan, so daß ich am Ende ein ganzes verworrenes Chaos von juristischen Bruchstücken in meinem Kopfe hatte. Es sind nun sechs Jahre, daß ich absolvirte; ich schrieb eine fünf Bogen lange juristische Disputation, welche ich öffentlich pro Candidatura vertheidigte. Weiß der Himmel, ob die Herrn Gelehrten sich mit mir foppen wollten, kurz mein Opusculum fand vor ihren Augen sehr viel Gnade, und wurde sogar von Göttingen aus gelobt. Ich fing an mich zum Examen vorzubereiten, und jetzt fand ich erst, welche ungeheure Lücken ich noch auszufüllen hätte, wenn ich ein nur erträglicher Rechtsgelehrter werden wollte. Von Stund’ an gab ich die Rechtswissenschaft auf. Voller Verzweiflung daß ich über sechs Jahre so unverantwortlich verschleudert hatte, daß ich so eine lange Zeit meiner guten Mutter zur Last gefallen war, von welcher ich, wenn ich nur das geringste feine Gefühl hatte, schlechterdings keine fernere Unterstützung annehmen durfte, weil sie ein sehr klein zugeschnittenes Vermögen besitzt, saß ich eines Abends da, und dachte meinem ferneren Schicksale nach. Dieser Abend machte mich zum Schriftsteller. Mehr, um mich zu zerstreuen, als in irgend einer anderen Absicht, warf ich die ersten Kapitel meines Wurmsaamen von Wurmfeld hin. Ein Buchhändler, den das Ohngefähr einige Tage darauf zu mir führte, und dem eben dieses Ohngefähr diese Blätter in die Hände spielte, fragte mich, ob ich das Buch nicht fortsetzen wollte? Wirklich fiel mir diese Frage auf, denn ich hatte bis jezt noch gar nicht daran gedacht, daß irgend einmal ein Buch daraus werden könnte. Er that mir indessen ein Gebot darauf, das mir so sehr einleuchtete, daß ich sogleich Hand ans Werk legte, und innerhalb einiger Monate wirklich den ersten Theil vollendete. Nun hatte ich den Weg gefunden, den ich gehen sollte! Und so bin ich bis jetzt immer darauf fortgegangen. Meine Freunde sagen mir, daß ich es mit einigem Glück gethan hätte. [Uhde 1877, 418–19]
I did so, and plagued myself with scholasticism for nearly two years, then attended lectures at the law colleges, and from lack of adequate understanding, did this in the greatest disorder, without any plan, so that in the end I had an utterly confused chaos of legal scraps in my head. I had now completed six years; I wrote a five-sheet [fünf Bogen lange] legal disputation, which I publicly defended pro candidatura [to advance to candidacy]. Heaven knows whether the Herr Scholars wanted to make a fool of me—in short, my little opus found much favor in their eyes and was even praised in Göttingen. I began to prepare myself for the exams, and discovered only then what tremendous holes I still had to fill if I wanted to become even a passable jurist. From that moment, I gave up jurisprudence. Full of despair that I had so irresponsibly squandered more than six years, and that I had long since become a burden on my good mother—from whom, if I had even the slightest fine feeling, I simply could not take any further support, because she possesses only a small estate tailored to her needs—I sat down one evening and contemplated my future destiny. This evening made me a writer. More to distract myself that with any other intention, I tossed off the first chapters of my Wurmsamen von Wurmfeld. A few days later a book dealer whom chance had brought my way, and into whose hands that same chance dealt these pages, asked me if I might not want to continue the book? This question truly got my attention, for up to that time I had no thought at all that it could ever be turned into a book. In the meantime he made me an offer that seemed so reasonable that I immediately set to work, and within a few months had actually finished the first part. Now I had found the path I should follow! And so I have continued on it up to now. My friends tell me that I have done so with some success.
Jünger did in fact write a legal disputation for Leipzig: Exercitatio Iuris Civilis de Conditione Nominis Ferendi Ultimus Voluntatibus Adscripta, dated 14 Jan 1780, which he dedicated to Weiße. In its published form it is exactly 40 pages, including the title page; a quarto folding of eight pages per sheet of paper would use exactly five full sheets, just as Jünger remembers.
The book to which Jünger refers is his first novel, Huldreich Wurmsamen von Wurmfeld, the first volume of which appeared in 1781, published by Johann Gottfried Dyck in Leipzig; the second volume was published in 1783 and the third in 1787. In a postscript to the third volume, Jünger recapitulates some of the origin story of the book, specifying that it was his friend Dyck who urged him to expand the initial chapters. Jünger’s preface to the first volume is dated “im Monat May 1781,” providing yet another relatively precise date in Jünger’s early life.
If Jünger was 14 when he began his apprenticeship and remained for four years, he would have been at least 18 when he left, but depending on the precise dates—when he entered the apprenticeship, when he left it, and the length of time between leaving the apprenticeship and enrolling at university—he might have been older than 18 by the time he enrolled.
The records of the university in Leipzig show that Jünger enrolled on 29 Oct 1774 (Erler 1909, 185).
(The “Rectore” named at the top of the left-hand page of the enrollment book is philologist and Lutheran theologian Samuel Friedrich Nathanael Morus (1736–1792), who had been professor of Greek and Latin at the university since 1771.) If Jünger was still 18 when he enrolled, then he would have been born in 1756; this may have been Roswitha Fischer’s reasoning when she gave 1756 as Jünger’s birth year in Neue Deutsche Biographie, although she does not say so. But no known contemporaneous source states that Jünger was born in 1756. On the other hand, Johann Gottlob Schulz’s Beschreibung der Stadt Leipzig, published in Leipzig in 1784 when Jünger was still living there, states that he was born in 1755. Schulz includes a short entry on Jünger in the section “Verzeichnis einiger der Zeit in Leipzig lebenden Schriftsteller” (“Catalog of some writers currently living in Leipzig”):
Herr Johann Friedrich Jünger, der Rechte
Kandidat, geboren zu Leipzig 1755, ist Verfasser
verschiedener mit Beyfall aufgenommener Romane,
dramatischen und dichterischen Arbeiten, und be=
schäftiget sich jezt auch mit der Herausgabe der
Gedichte seine Freundes, des seeligen Gallisch.
[Schulz 1784, 266]
Herr Johann Friedrich Jünger, candidate in
law, born in Leipzig in 1755, is the author of
various well-received novels, dramatic, and
poetic works, and is currently occupied with
the publication of the poems of his friend, the
The reference is to the celebrated doctor of medicine, professor of pharmacology (Arzneiwissenschaft), and writer Friedrich Andreas Gallisch (1754–1783), who had died the previous year at the age of 28. Shortly after Gallisch’s death, Jünger published a memorial poem that was singled out for praise in the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung in Apr 1783 (211ff), which also published an extract from it. Jünger’s edition of Gallisch’s Gedichte was published in Leipzig by Breitkopf in 1784, with an extended preface by Jünger, who describes, among other things, Gallisch’s remarkable musical gifts; according to Jünger, Gallisch could play an entire opera at the keyboard after just one hearing and play full scores at sight (Gedichte, xii).
Because Schulz may well have known Jünger, his book can (in the absence of a baptismal or birth record) arguably be considered the best current source for the year of his birth. An obituary of Jünger published in the Leipziger gelehrtes Tagebuch auf das Jahr 1797 (110) also gives 1755 as his birth year. Because two publications from Jünger’s home town say that he was born in 1755, and this year is consistent with the other chronological points of reference for Jünger’s early biography, it seems most likely to be correct. If so, then Jünger was slightly less than one year older than Mozart, and had just turned 42 at the time of his death.
Jünger writes of having wasted “more than six years” on his university studies, a total that may be slightly inflated. Jünger enrolled at university on 29 Oct 1774, and his thesis is dated 14 Jan 1780, implying that he had been at university for just a little over five years. At some point after 14 Jan 1780, he gave up his legal studies and wrote the first few chapters of a novel. After Dyck’s encouragement, he soon finished the first volume, which was published in May 1781 or shortly thereafter.
Jünger wrote and published industriously over the next few years. His novel Der kleine Cäsar appeared in 1782; it is based on Francis Coventry’s The History of Pompey the Little: Or, the Life and Adventures of a Lap-Dog (1751). The original edition of Der kleine Cäsar contains a frontispiece (a portrait of the dog Cäsar) by Jacob Wilhelm Mechau, and four engravings by Daniel Chodowiecki.
Jünger’s first work for the stage, the two-act comedy Die Badekur, was also published in 1782; the earliest known performance—currently the earliest known performance of any play by Jünger—was given by the company of Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann in Bonn on 14 Apr 1782 (Maurer & Mauer 1990, 274; Wolter 1901, Beilage 2, xv). The play was first performed in Leipzig just two days later, on 16 Apr, by the German theatrical company managed by Pasquale Bondini and directed by Johann Friedrich Reinecke (Blümner 1817, 317). Die Badekur was also performed by the Döbbelin company in Berlin in 1782 (Theater-Kalender 1782, 266), and it went on to become the first of Jünger’s plays to be performed by the court theater in Vienna, premiering in the Burgtheater on 17 Jul 1784. Although Die Badekur was dropped from the repertory in Vienna after just three performances, it is nevertheless impressive that Jünger’s very first play was mounted by at least four of the leading German-language theater companies of the time. On 4 Sep 1782, Großmann’s company performed Jünger’s five-act comedy Freundschaft und Argwohn in Frankfurt (Theater-Journal für Deutschland, xxi:51), the first known performance of that work, likewise published in 1782, and that play was also soon taken up by other companies.
In these years Jünger seems to have had an ongoing (if probably unofficial) connection with Bondini’s German company, which at that time gave short seasons of German plays and singspiels in Leipzig during the Easter and Michaelmas trade fairs (on Bondini’s two companies and their schedules, see our entry for 4 Oct 1783). Reinecke’s wife Sophie delivered a prologue written by Jünger at the opening performance of the German company’s season in Leipzig on 22 Apr 1783 (the prologue is given in full in LTZ 1783, 305–7). Jünger’s Freundschaft und Argwohn was performed by the company three days later, on 25 Apr, and that performance was the occasion for a long review by a correspondent to the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung. The review begins:
Das Stück hat die
Schönheiten, aber auch die Fehler von dem Probestü=
cke des Verfassers, der Badekur: eine leicht, natür=
liche Sprache, muntern Witz, viel glückliche Einfälle,
einige wohl angelegte Situationen, verschiedene vor=
treflich geführte Scenen, gut durchgeführte Charaktere,
wenn schon keine neuen; aber auf der andern Seite
auch zu wenig individuelle Charakterzüge, keinen gut
angelegten Plan, keine Einheit der Handlung, keinen
bestimmten Zweck, und folglich kein rechtes Interesse.
[LTZ 1783, 345]
The play has the
virtues but also the failings of the author’s test
piece, Die Badekur: light and natural dialogue, lively
wit, many happy inspirations, some well-structured
situations, various excellently managed scenes, well-
developed characters, albeit none of them new; on
the other hand, too few individual character traits,
a plot that is not well structured, no unity of action,
no particular goal, and consequently no real interest.
The reviewer then goes on at some length to suggest detailed changes that Jünger could make to address these faults. Although most of the reviewer’s points, both positive and negative, became common themes in subsequent criticism of Jünger’s work, the playwright took to heart the reviewer’s comment about individual character traits, as we have seen in the verbal idiosyncrasies that Jünger used to characterize old Herrmann in Er mengt sich in Alles.
Bondini’s German company opened its summer season in Prague on 14 Jul 1783, again with a prologue by Jünger (LTZ 1783, 641–42). Jünger’s play Der Strich durch die Rechnung opened the company’s Michaelmas season in Leipzig on 25 Sep 1783, and it was performed there again on 12 Oct; this is the same season that included the Leipzig premiere of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 4 Oct (see our entry for that date). A reviewer in the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung, after giving an extended plot summary of Der Strich durch die Rechnung, continues:
Das Stück ist sehr
gut aufgenommen worden: es ist ein wenig roman=
haft; der Ausgang hat einige Unwahrscheinlichkeit,
und die Verwechslung bey der Entführung vielleicht
eine zu auffallende Aehnlichkeit mit der Verwechslung
in Freundschaft und Argwohn von demselben Ver=
fasser; aber der Gang der Handlung geht rasch, die
Sprache ist durchaus munter, alle komische Situatio=
nen des Plans sind glücklich benutzt: kurz das Stück
unterhält von der ersten bis zur lezten Scene. —
[LTZ 1783, 716]
The play was very
well received: it is a bit novelistic; the denouement
is somewhat improbable, and the mistaken identity
in the abduction perhaps too strongly resembles
that in Freundschaft und Argwohn by the same author;
but the tempo of the action is fast, the dialogue is
lively throughout, all of the comic situations in
the plot are felicitously used: in short, the play
entertains from the first scene to the last.
Der Strich durch die Rechnung was Jünger’s most successful play to that point, and was quickly taken up by German-language companies elsewhere.
Jünger’s burgeoning success as a playwright did not prevent him from continuing to write in other genres. His novel Des Grafen Heinrich von Moreland merkwürdige Geschichte und Abentheuer appeared in 1783 (again with a frontispiece by Mechau), and 1784 saw the publication of his singspiel libretto Der blinde Ehemann, which was set by Johann Christoph Kaffka (Bauman 1985, 244; on Kaffka, see our entry on his Sechs Freyer und keine Braut, which also contains a reference to Mozart). And the same issue of the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung that praises Jünger's memorial poem for Gallisch contains an announcement (219) of his planned publication of a translation of Jacques Delille’s Les jardins, ou L’Art d’embellir les paysages (1782; it is unclear, however, whether this publication ever appeared).
Around the end of 1783, Jünger met the young Danish writer Knud Lyne Rahbek (1760–1830), who had recently published a well-received theory of acting, Breve fra en gammel Skuespiller til hans søn (Letter from an old actor to his son, 1782) and was now on an educational tour of Germany. Rahbek probably met Jünger while visiting Leipzig, and the two became fast friends. Nearly a century ago Hans Knudsen published summaries and extended extracts from twelve letters that Jünger wrote to Rahbek in the years 1784 to 1787, and these tell us much of what we know about Jünger’s life during those years (Knudsen 1921).
Jünger’s letters of 6 and 17 Jun 1784 were both sent from Prague, strongly suggesting that he was in the city for the summer season of Bondini’s German company. From Jünger’s letter of 6 Jun we learn that he had fallen in love with the actress Caroline Schouwärt (Schouwaert), whose husband Franz Philipp Adolph Schouwärt was also in Bondini’s company. Madame Schouwärt, however, had become involved with an officer named Forster, for whom she soon left her husband. In his letter to Rahbek of 17 Jun, Jünger expressed his hurt and anger over the Schouwärt affair in such strong language that Knudsen declined to transcribe it, in order not to shock the sensibilities of his readers in 1921. We also learn from Jünger’s letters that Rahbek, while visiting Vienna, had himself been smitten by the young Josepha Müller, who seven years later would create the role of Charlotte in Jünger’s Er mengt sich in Alles.
Jünger went to Vienna in July 1784, where he lodged with Schröder and his wife for around three months. Schröder mentions Jünger in a letter of 29 Aug 1784:
Seit vier Wochen wohnt
Jünger bei mir. Heute wird zum erstenmal sein Strich
durch die Rechnung aufgeführt, in vierzehn Tagen der
offene Briefwechsel, eine Nachahmung des Barbiers
von Sevilla. Ein paar gute Stücke! [...]
[Meyer 1819, i:397]
Jünger has been living
with me for four weeks. His Strich durch die Rechnung
will be given for the first time today, in two weeks
Der offene Briefwechsel, an imitation of Der Barbier
von Sevilla. A couple of good plays! [...]
Der Strich durch die Rechnung did well in Vienna, and was performed there 48 times in all through 5 Jan 1810; it was revived a few years later in revised form as Launen des Zufalls, which was given 20 times (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:39 and 156). Jünger’s Der offene Briefwechsel was less successful: it was first performed in the Burgtheater on 18 Sep 1784, but dropped after 7 performances.
In an undated letter written before the Viennese premieres of either play, Jünger tells Rahbek that he may not submit anything for the Mannheim prize in 1784; this is the same competition he writes about the following year in his letter to Dalberg. He goes on to express his dislike of prizes in general and of critics who think plays can be judged by how well they correspond to theories of theater. In Jünger’s view:
Ein Stück, das allgemein interessirt, das Situationen hat, bey welchen das ganze Haus entweder schluchtzt oder lacht, kann durchaus nicht schlecht seyn, und wenn alle Kunstrichter der Welt dagegen deklamirten. [Knudsen 1921, 71]
A play that is of general interest, that has situations at which the entire house either sobs or laughs, cannot be entirely bad, even if all the critics in the world pronounce against it.
This quote could stand as the motto for all of Jünger’s dramatic works. For him, audience reaction was paramount.
By December 1784, Jünger was in Dresden, where he spent the winter lodging with Reinecke, the director of Bondini’s German company. In a letter to Rahbek dated 12 Dec 1784, Jünger—still smarting from the Schouwärt affair—writes: “Die Liebe und ich sind vor der Hand geschiedene Leute” (“Love and I are divorced for the present”; Knudsen 1921, 72). From a letter that Jünger sent to Rahbek from Leipzig in April or early May 1785, we learn that while in Vienna Jünger had become close friends with the young Burgtheater actress Katharina (“Katty”) Jacquet (1760–1786); he wrote to Rahbek: “Sie ist außer dir das einzige Geschöpf, das mich ganz versteht” (“She is, apart from you, the only person who completely understands me”; Knudsen 1921, 216). Her premature death on 31 Jan 1786 (which led to a general outpouring of grief in Vienna) was devastating to Jünger. Although there is no indication that his friendship with Jacquet was anything other than platonic, this bitter loss so soon after the pain of the Schouwärt affair helps explain why Jünger remained a lifelong bachelor. In a letter to Rahbek dated 28 Aug 1786, he writes: “Wahrlich Bruder, ich habe nun feyerlichst auf alle Hofnung Verzicht gethan, jemals durch das Herz glücklich zu werden” (“Truly, brother, I have most solemnly relinquished all hope of ever becoming happy through my heart”; Knudsen 1921, 224).
A letter to Rahbek dating from April or early May 1785 contains frank personal criticism of Schröder, based on Jünger’s experiences while living with him: he tells of Schröder’s tyrannical treatment of his wife, his huge ego, his disdain for the Viennese, and his nearly seditious comments about the emperor. In another letter to Rahbek from around this same time, Jünger relates that Schröder had been passing off his play Der Ring as an original; unaware of this, Jünger—who was widely read in English and French drama—had innocently remarked to Schröder that it was a good adaptation of Farquhar’s The Constant Couple (Knudsen 1921, 218). It appears that Schröder never forgave him for having recognized this.
Insofar as Jünger’s name appears at all in literary history today, it is usually in connection with Friedrich Schiller, with whom Jünger became friends when Schiller was in Leipzig in 1785. The second issue of Schiller’s journal Thalia (1786)—the same issue that opens with Schiller’s “An die Freude” and includes an extract from Schiller’s Don Karlos—contains a short passage from the third, as yet unpublished volume of Jünger’s Huldreich Wurmsamen von Wurmfeld (Thalia, ii:129–31). The next issue of Thalia includes Jünger’s poem Den Manen meiner ewig theure unvergeßlichen Freundin Catharina Jacquet heilig (Consecrated to the memory of my eternally dear, unforgettable friend Catharina Jacquet; Thalia, iii:97–98).
In 1787 Jünger moved to Vienna, probably at some point before the premiere of his play Das Kleid aus Lyon in the Burgtheater on 5 May 1787. The play was quite successful: it was performed 11 times in all that season, and remained in the repertory until 1805 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:45). Jünger lived in Vienna for the rest of his life. In his last known letter to Rahbek, dated 30 Dec 1787, he wrote:
Mein Schicksal hat mich endlich hierher verschlagen. Ich arbeite hier für das Theater, bin aber nicht Theaterdichter, bekomme auch keinen Gehalt, und stehe auf keine Weise weder unter der Obersthoft[heater]direktion noch unter dem Ausschuß.
[Knudsen 1921, 226]
My fate has finally driven me here. I work here for the theater, but am not the Theater Poet [Theaterdichter], so receive no salary, and thus in no way am I subject to either the theater’s directorate or its board.
The head of the Viennese court theater at the time (Jünger’s “Obersthoftheaterdirektion”) was Count Franz Xaver Wolfgang von Orsini-Rosenberg (1723–1796); day-to-day operations of the theaters at that time were under the direction of a board (Ausschuß) selected from among the members of the company.
Jünger’s productivity seems to have fallen significantly during his first year or two in Vienna. In the first six years of his career as a writer, from 1781 to the premiere of Das Kleid aus Lyon in 1787, Jünger had published at least ten plays, eight of which had been produced by the court theater in Vienna (the only ones that were not were Freundschaft und Argwohn and Jeannot, published in Leipzig in 1786). During that same period he published all or parts of five novels, and the first volume or two of Vetter Jakob’s Launen, which eventually became a six-volume series of comic stories. He also published at least one singspiel libretto, an edition of Gallisch’s poems, and miscellaneous poems of his own. After the premiere of Das Kleid aus Lyon on 5 May 1787, however, no play by Jünger was produced by the court theater in Vienna until Der Revers, premiered on 5 Apr 1788. Der Revers was a modest success, but Jünger’s other two premieres in the Burgtheater that year, Dank und Undank (16 Aug 1788) and Der Wechsel (22 Sep 1788), while not outright failures, were not particularly successful, receiving just 4 and 5 performances respectively before being dropped from the repertory. (Der Wechsel was revived in 1795, but Dank und Undank was never revived.) Jünger is not known to have published anything else in any genre in 1788.
At some point during his first two years in Vienna Jünger became acquainted with Mozart. Until the discovery of Jünger’s letter to Brockmann, only two known documents connected Jünger to Mozart, both describing the same event: on Sun, 24 Aug 1788, two Danish visitors, Joachim Daniel Preisler and Michael Rosing, recorded in their travel diaries that they had been taken by Jünger, Joseph Lange, and Dr. Karl Werner to visit Mozart at home, where the composer improvised for them on his pedal fortepiano. (Both diary entries are in Dokumente, 285–86 and 515–16; for more details, see our commentary on Jünger’s letter.) We do not know how well Jünger knew Mozart, but it seems plausible that they became acquainted through Lange, one of the most prominent actors in the ensemble of the court theater, and Mozart’s brother-in-law. (That Jünger and Lange were friends is suggested by an anecdote in Lange’s autobiography; see below.) At any rate, Jünger knew Mozart well enough to be the one to approach him in 1791 with a request to compose a piece for Er mengt sich in Alles.
On 24 Feb 1789, the Ausschuß of the court theater was dissolved, and Brockmann was elected sole director of the company, responsible for its day-to-day operations, effective from the first day of the new season, Easter Monday, 13 Apr 1789 (Hadamowsky 1994, 276). It was probably not coincidental that Jünger was appointed Hoftheaterdichter (court theater poet) by the emperor around the same time, on 11 Mar 1789. Although we know nothing about Jünger’s relationship with Brockmann at that point, the close timing of their appointments suggests that Jünger may have been named Hoftheaterdichter at Brockmann’s recommendation.
Jünger’s first premiere in the Burgtheater after his appointment was a failure: Die unerwartete Wendung (an adaptation of Sheridan’s The Discovery) was performed for the first time on 11 May 1789 and for the last time two days later. He had to wait a year for his next premiere, but it was a hit: Die Entführung, apparently an original rather than an adaptation from pre-existing material, was first performed in the Burgtheater on 10 May 1790, and became arguably the most successful of all Jünger’s plays. It remained in the repertory of the Burgtheater until 1858 and was performed 110 times across that period (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:55). Its wider performance history has yet to be investigated, but even a casual glance at the repertories of other German-language theater companies from this time shows that Die Entführung was quickly taken up elsewhere and remained in the repertory for several decades.
Jünger’s years as Hoftheaterdichter were the highpoint of his career. After Der Faschings-Dienstag (Shrove Tuesday), an occasional piece first performed on Tue, 8 Mar 1791 (Faschingsdienstag that year) came Er mengt sich in Alles, premiered in the Burgtheater on 23 Aug 1791, another success. Die Geschwister vom Lande, first performed just a little over a later, on 27 Sep 1791, was given only five times before being permanently dropped. But Maske für Maske (adapted from Marivaux’s Le Jeu de l’amour et du hazard), first performed on 25 May 1792, was yet another success, remaining in the repertory until 1840 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:59). Brockmann was relieved of his position as theater director in Nov 1792, but Jünger retained his position, at least for the time being. His early play Freundschaft und Argwohn was finally given in the Burgtheater on 15 Apr 1793, but it did not do particularly well, receiving only 6 performances before being dropped. However, his Komödie aus dem Stegreif, first performed on 6 Jun 1794, was a hit, remaining in the repertory of the Burgtheater until 1848 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:65). During these years Jünger also published his Ehestandsgemälde (1790) and a translation of the complete plays of Jean-Claude Gorgy (1793–1794) in two volumes. He also added four more volumes to his collection of comic stories, Vetter Jakob.
During this successful period, Jünger was a able to afford a first-floor (American second-floor) apartment in the center of Vienna: a letter from Jünger to his Leipzig publisher Göschen written before 1790 (Wienbibliothek, H.I.N. 3709) and one to Kotzebue dated 10 Jul 1791 (Wienbibliothek, H.I.N. 7169) both show that Jünger’s address during these years was “Johannisgasse N. 996. im ersten Stok” (Johannesgasse No. 996, first floor), just off the intersection with Kärntnerstraße and a few minutes walk to the Burgtheater.
In 1794, the court decided to lease its theaters to an entrepreneur, Peter von Braun, who took control on 1 Aug. Just two months later, on 4 Oct, Jünger was released from his position as Hoftheaterdichter. Jünger seems to have been pushed out of his position through an underhanded maneuver by the new management while Jünger was away from the city. Joseph Lange tells in his autobiography of taking a trip to the mountains of upper Austria in the late summer of 1794, accompanied by his wife Aloysia, Jünger, the court theater actor Friedrich Karl Sannens (1751–1850), and the artist and engraver Anton Marcellus Scotti (1765–1795):
Theils zur Erheiterung meiner Frau, theils
um selbst meine, von Gram, Kummer und
angestrengter Arbeit erschöpften Kräfte wieder
zu erholen, beschloß ich eine romantische Ge=
birgsreise nach dem Lande ob der Enns zu
unternehmen. Außer meiner Frau gesellten sich
mir der rechtschaffene, so eben von einer Krank=
heit wieder genesene Lustspieldichter Jünger, der
Hofschauspieler Sanens, und mein Freund,
der Landschaftzeichner und Kupferstecher Skotti,
dessen Andenken mir immer schätzbar und theuer
seyn wird. Skotti sollte die paradiesischen Ge=
genden dieses glücklichen Landes zeichnen, und
sodann stechen, Jünger sie mit dichterischem
Feuer beschreiben und besingen. Man genießt
die Natur doppelt, und fühlt sich doppelt er=
hoben, wenn man sie an der Seite so em=
pfänglicher Menschen genießt. Ich zähle den
Verlauf dieser Reise unter die glücklichsten Ta=
ge meines Lebens. [...]
[Lange 1808, 177–78]
Partly to cheer up my wife and partly
to recover my own powers, which had been
exhausted by grief, sorrow and intense
work, I decided to undertake a romantic
trip to the mountains in the country above
the Enns. In addition to my wife, I was
joined by the honorable comedy writer
Jünger, who was just recovering from an
illness, the court theater actor Sannens,
and my friend, the landscape-draftsman
and engraver Scotti, whose memory
will always be cherished and dear to me.
Scotti was to draw these paradisal regions,
and then engrave them, Jünger to describe
and extol them with poetic fire. One enjoys
nature twice as much and feels doubly exalted
when one enjoys it in the company of such
sensitive people. I count the course of this
journey among the happiest days of my life. [...]
Lange goes on to give a vivid proto-Romantic account of their awe at the sublimity of the natural surroundings: towering waterfalls, a fierce storm on the “Gmundner=See” (the Traunsee); and an overnight stay on a moonlit night in an old mill surrounded by mountains. Whether Jünger left written descriptions of this trip remains to be determined, but at least one engraving by Scotti is documented that might be related to it: Ansicht der Cascade in Eisenau (View of the Waterfall in Eisenau), which is said to be dedicated to “H. Lange” (no. 10 in the list of Scotti’s engravings in Nagler 1846, xvi:181).
The context of Lange’s autobiography makes clear that their trip to the mountains took place just after the appointment of von Braun; Lange goes on to describe one of the unpleasant consequences that resulted from their having left Vienna just at that particular time:
Diese Reise hin=
terließ mir doch eine traurige Erinnerung. Man
hatte Jünger Abwesenheit dazu benüzt, um
ihn der neuen Direction als unfähig zu seinem
Geschäfte darzustellen. Seine Stelle als Thea=
ter=Secretär erhielt ein anderer, was der oh=
nehin kränkliche Mann tief empfand. Ich mach=
te mir, da ich ihn zu dieser Reise vermochte,
die bittersten Vorwürfe, um so mehr, als er
bald darauf starb. [...]
[Lange 1808, 179]
left me, however, with one unhappy memory.
Jünger’s absence was used by the new
directorate to paint him as incapable of
his duties. His position as Theater-Secretary
was obtained by someone else, which deeply
affected the otherwise sickly man. Because
I am the one who brought him along on this
journey, I reproached myself most bitterly,
all the more because he died soon
Lange may be slightly misremembering here; Jünger’s position was Hoftheaterdichter, not “Secretär.” According to an obituary of Jünger published in the Intelligenzblatt der Allgemeinen Literatur-Zeitung, von Braun did away with Jünger’s position of Hoftheaterdichter, and installed the writer Johann Baptist von Alxinger (1755–1797) in the position of “secretary” (Sekretär) of the German Schauspiel (spoken theater):
[...] Als Freyherr Peter von
Braun Vicedirector des k. k. Nationaltheaters, mit der
Vollmacht die Glieder desselben anzustellen und abzu-
danken, ward, zog er die Stelle eines Theaterdichters
ganz ein, ernannte den bald nach Jünger verstorbenen
berühmten Dichter Joh. Bapt. von Alxinger zum Theater-
secretär, und Jünger erhielt den 4 Oct. 1794 ein Ent-
lassungsdecret, das in den schmeichelhaftesten Ausdrücken
abgefasst war, und worin sich der Vicedirector ver-
sprach, mehrere Stücke von seiner Arbeit zu erhalten. [...]
[Intelligenzblatt der Allgemeinen Literatur-Zeitung,
no. 17, Sat, 27 Jan 1798, col. 131]
[...] When Baron Peter von
Braun became Vicedirector of the k. k. Nationaltheater,
with authority to hire and fire its members, he did away
entirely with the position of Theaterdichter, and named
the famous writer Joh. Bapt. von Alxinger, who died
soon after Jünger, to the position of theater secretary,
and Jünger received his dismissal decree on 4 Oct
1794, which was couched in the most flattering terms,
and in which the Vicedirector promised to take up
several of his [Jünger’s] plays. [...]
However, following the premiere of Jünger’s Komödie aus dem Stegreif on 4 Jun 1794, no other new play by Jünger was mounted by the Burgtheater during his lifetime. Thus von Braun was pushing out a writer with a proven record of success, and installing Alxinger, who at the time of his appointment had never had a play produced by the Viennese court theater; his only previous appearance as a writer for that theater had been as the author of a German adaptation of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, first performed in Vienna on 23 Oct 1781. During Alxinger’s tenure with the court theater, only two of his scripts were produced: the comedy Freunde auf der Probe, adapted from the French, first given on 21 Sep 1795 and dropped after just three performances; and the singspiel Die gute Mutter, with music by Paul Wranitzky, first given on 11 May 1795, and dropped permanently from the repertory after eight performances. Ironically, Alxinger, who was more or less Jünger’s exact contemporary, died on 1 May 1797, a little over two months after Jünger.
After Jünger was dismissed from his position as Hoftheaterdichter, he became dependent entirely on what he could earn as a freelance author. He moved to a cheaper apartment in the Landstraße suburb (today the 3rd district in Vienna), house no. 222II (129I), “Zum rothen Apfel” (At the Red Apple), belonging to Anna Maria Mum. He already gives this address on a letter to his publisher Göschen in Leipzig dated 1 Nov 1794 (Holtei 1872, i/2:73). Jünger lived in this apartment until his death on 25 Feb 1797.
The house still exists, still with its “red apple” sign (probably the original one); the address today is Landstraßer Hauptstraße 70.
After the loss of his court position, Jünger seems to have become something of a recluse. Even while he was Hoftheaterdichter, he was, by his own account, no social butterfly. In his undated letter to Brockmann in 1791, Jünger—by way of defending himself against Brockmann’s charge that the Jünger had been criticizing him in public—wrote:
sehe so wenig Leute, komme so wenig aus, daß man sogar,
wie ich höre, schon anfängt, mein immer zu Hauße seÿn mit
Bemerkungen zu begleiten. Um allen Weschereÿen auszuweichen,
gehe ich absichtlich selten oder nie an öffentliche Örter, die einzi=
ge Basteÿ ausgenommen, und auch dieser weiche ich aus wenn
das Glacis gangbar ist. Mehr kann man doch wohl nicht thun
um Ruhe zu haben? Fängt mich nun ja einer von den wenigen
bekannten die ich etwa habe, deren Zahl aber äußerst gering ist,
auf, und fragt mich, je nun, so antworte ich wie ich ge=
fragt werde. [...]
[Wienbibliothek, H.I.N 1207; see the facsimile and
complete transcription of the letter here]
[...] I see
so few people, come out so seldom, that my being always at home
has, I’m told, begun to occasion comment. In order to avoid all
empty chatter, I on purpose seldom or never go to public places,
the one Bastei excepted, and I also avoid this when the Glacis is
accessible. One really can’t do more than that to have peace,
can one? If one of my few actual acquaintances—the number
of which is, however, extremely small—should catch me and
ask me whatever, I answer as I was asked. [...]
After losing his position as Hoftheaterdichter and moving to Landstraße, Jünger seems to have become even more reclusive, falling victim, it is said, to melancholy and hypochondria. Even so, he continued to be highly productive as a writer, publishing three novels: Der Melancholische (1795–1796, vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3); Wilhelmine oder Alles ist nicht Gold was glänzt (2 parts, 1795–1796); and Fritz, ein komischer Roman (4 parts, 1796–1797; two additional parts were published after his death). Previously unpublished works continued to appear after his death, suggesting that he had written a great deal more than he had published during the last years of his life. A satirical novel in one volume was published in 1799, Prinz Amaranth mit der großen Nase; eine moralische Erzählung aus den Jahrbüchern der Regierung König Dideltapp des Großen und dessen Gemahlin, Kikelkakel der Weisen; Nebst historischen Nachrichten von der Königin Carunkel, dem Prinzen Hämpeditschen und dem Zauberer Talpatsch (Prince Amaranth with the Big Nose: A Morality Tale from the Annals of the Government of King Dideltapp the Great and his Wife, Kikelkakel the Wise; along with Historical Reports on Queen Carunkel, Prince Hämpeditsch, and the Magician Talpatsch). Ten previously unpublished plays appeared in two volumes in 1803 and 1804, under the collective title J. F. Jüngers Theatralischer Nachlaß. Eight of these plays had been produced by the court theater by the time of their publication, suggesting that Jünger found advocates in the Burgtheater after his death that he had lacked during the last two and a half years of his life. Among Jünger’s posthumously performed and published plays were his adaptation from Beaumarchais, Der Tolle Tag, oder Die Hochzeit des Figaro, first performed in the Burgtheater on 14 Sep 1802 (the first performance of any spoken version of Figaro by the court theater in Vienna); and Jünger’s biggest posthumous hit, Die beyden Figaro, (an adaptation of Les Deux Figaro by Honoré-Antoine Richaud-Martelly), first performed in the Burgtheater on 17 Sep 1799, which which went on to receive 76 performances there through 1842 (Alth & Obzyna 1979, i:81). One of Jünger’s posthumous plays not performed by the court theater is Selim, Prinz von Algier, his only known attempt at tragedy. In the years 1803 to 1805, an edition of Jünger’s complete plays in 13 volumes was issued by Johann Baptist Wallisshauser in Vienna, and Jünger’s miscellaneous poetry was gathered into a volume edited by Johann Georg Eck, published in 1821.
A notice of Jünger’s death appeared in Wieland’s Der neue deutsche Merkur in the issue for April 1797; the notice includes an extract from a letter submitted by an unnamed friend who had visited Jünger the day before he died:
Ueber Jüngers Tod schreibt ein anderer Freund
aus Wien unter dem ersten März folgendes:
“Es hat mich selten etwas so erschüttert, als Jün=
gers Tod. Den Tag zuvor war ich bey ihm gewesen.
Wir hatten kaum erfahren, daß er krank sey. Er wohn=
te in einem entlegenen Theile der Stadt. Das Uebel
kam unerwartet und nahm plötzlich über Hand. Als ich
ihn sah, zeigte sich ein Anschein von Besserung. Ich
machte Anstalt ihn den Händen der Aeskulape zu ent=
reißen, die sich seiner bemächtigt hatten. Es war zu
spät. Den andern Morgen war er todt, oder getöd=
tet, wenn ich meinen ganzen Unmuth in einem Worte
ausschütten soll. Auf eine solche Weise so in der Blü=
the geknickt und gebrochen zu werden!”
Er litt in den letzten Jahren viel von Hypochondrie,
deren Ausbrüche zuweilen sehr sonderbar waren. Allein
man hat dieß auswärts zu sehr vergrößert und über=
Auch sein Verlust ist für die teutsche Bühne unersetz=
lich. Auch er hatte die richtigern Begriffe von dem was
unserm Theater noth sey, und es war nicht seine Schuld,
wenn die Theater, die ihm am nächsten waren, so sehr
Wer dichtet nun noch ein wahres Lustspiel in
Frange leves calamos, et scinde, Thalia, ca-
[Der neue deutsche Merkur, 4. Stück, Apr 1797, 398–400]
Of Jünger’s death another friend in Vienna
writes the following, dated 1 March:
“Seldom has anything shaken me as much
as Jünger’s death. I was with him the day before.
We had scarcely known he was ill. He lived in an
outlying part of the city. The sickness came
unexpectedly and suddenly gained the upper hand.
When I saw him, he showed signs of improvement.
I made preparations to wrest him away from the
Asclepius who had taken possession of him. It was
too late. The next morning, he was dead—or
murdered, if I am to express my vexation in a single
word. To be bent and broken in this way in his prime!”
He suffered much in recent years from hypochondria,
the outbreaks of which sometimes were very peculiar.
But these have been overly magnified and exaggerated
And his loss is irreplaceable for the German stage.
He too had the proper concept of what our theater
needed, and it was not his fault if the theater nearest
to him had gone so far to seed.
Who now will yet write a true comedy in Germany!
Frange leves calamos, et scinde, Thalia, ca-
It seems likely that the author of the portion of the text following the quotation was Wieland himself. The Latin quotation is from Martial, Epigrams, lxxiii, but with Martial’s last word “libellos” (books) changed to “capillos” (hair): “Break your worthless pens, Thalia, and tear your hair …” The notice of Jünger’s death in Der neue deutsche Merkur follows directly after a report on the death of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, author of the text of the famous melodrama Medea; Gotter died on 18Mar 1797, three weeks after Jünger, and it is to Gotter that the writer is comparing Jünger in writing “he too had the proper concept of what our theater needed.”
An obituary in the Intelligenzblatt der Allgemeinen Literatur-Zeitung on 27 Jan 1798 (no. 17, cols. 130–32) gives a good picture of Jünger’s character:
[...] Seinen vertraute Freunden wird er
eben so unvergesslich durch sein Herz als durch seinen
Geist bleiben. Er besass das edelste Gemüth, war ge-
nügsam, ohne die geringste Prätension, munter und ge-
fällig im Umgange, kurz, er vereinigte in sich alle
Gaben, die ihn zum liebenswürdigsten Menschen im
Leben, und selbst nach dem Tode noch allen, die ihn
kannten, sein Andenken theuer machen. Wiederholte
Male hatte er Anfälle von tiefer Melancholie, die zu-
nächst an stillen Wahnsinn grenzte, welche von seinem
unausgesetzten literarischen Fleisse, womit er sich sein
Brod kümmerlich verdienen musste, und von seiner
durchaus einsiedlerischen Lebensart herrühren mochte.
Er fühlte sich schon einige Wochen vor seinem Tode
kränklich. Das Übel nahm plötzlich zu, besonders, da
er nicht aufmerksam genug auf sich selbst war, und sich
anfänglich einem Salbader anvertraute, dessen schlimme
Cur nachher sein ordentlicher Arzt nicht mehr zu ver-
bessern vermochte, und die ihn nach einem sehr kurzen
Krankenlager ins Grab stürzte. [...]
[...] To his close friends he will remain
just as unforgettable for his heart as for his spirit. He
possessed the noblest disposition, was modest, without
the least pretension, cheerful and obliging in his dealings:
in short, he united in himself all the gifts that made him
the most amiable man in life, and even in death make
his memory dear to all those who knew him. He repeatedly
had attacks of deep melancholy, initially bordering on
silent madness, which may have arisen from his incessant
literary labor, by which he had to eke out his living.
He already felt sickly some weeks before his death. The
sickness worsened suddenly, especially because he did
not take sufficient care of himself, and he initially put himself
under the care of a charlatan [Salbader], whose poor care
his regular doctor could no longer remedy, and which
brought him to the grave after a very brief sickbed. [...]
Jünger left a will dated 5 Dec 1792 (Vienna, Stadt- und Landesarchiv, Mag. ZG, A10, 118/1797). From it we learn that by then his only surviving close relative was his niece Caroline, daughter of his late sister. Because Caroline’s father was sufficiently well off to provide for her needs, Jünger wrote, he was instead naming as his sole heir Elisabeth von Stirn in Vienna.
Little is known of Elisabeth and we do not know the nature of Jünger’s relationship to her or her family. She was the daughter of Baron Johann Baptist von Stirn and his wife Antonia, née Baroness Titz, from Moravia, who had married on 9 Jun 1777 (Vienna, St. Stephan, Trauungsbuch 2-71, 242r–242v). The couple lived in the Josephstadt, no. 51 in Josephsgasse, “bey dem goldenen Anckern.” We have so far been unable to locate a record of Elisabeth’s birth or baptism, but the record of her marriage on 7 Jul 1801 to Joseph Hilmer gives her age as 24 (Vienna, St. Peter, Trauungsbuch 2-1, 528), and the same age is given in the record of her death from tuberculosis just a few months later, on 2 Jan 1802 (Vienna, St. Peter, Sterbebuch 3-1, 423). If these records are correct, then she was born no later than 7 Jul 1777, implying that she was conceived well before her parents’ marriage. Assuming that Elisabeth was born in the first half of 1777, she would have been no more than 15 when Jünger wrote his will at the end of 1792. In the Hof- und Staats-Schematismus for 1781, Elisabeth’s father Johann Baptist von Stirn is listed as a member of the “Akademierath” for the Akademie der vereinigten bildenden Künste (Hof- und Staats-Schematismus 1781, 1); he died on 27 May 1783 at age 56 (Vienna, Maria Treu, Sterbebuch 3-3, 145). Elisabeth’s mother Antonia von Stirn was roughly 20 years younger than her husband; she died on 14 Sep 1806 at age 58 (Vienna, St. Augustin, Sterbebuch 3-4/5, 24), outliving her daughter by more than four years.
The only other reference to Elisabeth that we have been able to find so far is an intriguing one: she is listed in Ignaz de Luca’s 1794 Topographie von Wien as one of the leading amateur pianists in Vienna, where she is named in the distinguished company of Baroness Krufft (probably Maria Anna von Krufft, mother of the composer Nikolaus von Krufft), Maria Theresia von Paradis, and Caroline von Greiner (de Luca 1794, i:388). Elisabeth would have been no more than 17 at the time de Luca’s book was published. This is, however, the only known reference to Elisabeth’s skills as a pianist. Her name does not occur in connection with any known public or private concert in Vienna (see Morrow 1989 and Edge 1992), and she is not among the “Virtuosen und Dilettanten von Wien” listed in Schönfeld’s Jahrbuch der Tonkunst von Wien und Prag, published in 1796, which does include entries for Krufft, Paradis, and Greiner, along with a great many other amateur and professional instrumentalists in Vienna at that time.
Elisabeth was still legally underage and unmarried at the time of Jünger’s death in 1797, and her representative in the settlement of Jünger’s estate was the lawyer Anton Turowsky. According to Jünger’s estate records (his Verlassenschaftsabhandlung), Turowsky had sold manuscripts of 10 unpublished plays by Jünger to the court theater for 1000 fl (Vienna, Stadt- und Landesarchiv, Mag. ZG, A2, 238/1797). These manuscripts were almost certainly the 10 plays published in 1803 and 1804 as J. F. Jüngers Theatralischer Nachlaß; by the time of their publication, 8 had been performed by the court theater (the first was Stolz und Liebe, first performed on 26 Dec 1797, ten months after Jünger’s death). Turowsky thus received 100˜fl per play, half of what Jünger had received for a new play when he was Hoftheaterdichter (in his undated letter to Brockmann in 1791, Jünger mentions that he received 200 fl per play according to his contract).
Jünger was not wealthy at the time of his death, but neither was he destitute; the net value of his estate after tax was 926 fl 6 kr. His wardrobe shows that he was well-dressed: his estate included 38 shirts, 12 pairs of trousers, and 38 pairs of socks, which fetched 136 fl 25 kr at auction, suggesting that they were of high quality.
As we have seen in the reports of his death, Jünger was well loved by his friends, even if their number, by his own account, was small. The writer Johann Friedrich Schink (1755–1835), who had lived in Vienna in the years 1780 to 1789 (although not continuously), before moving to Hamburg in 1789, had become friends with Jünger in Vienna. Schink dedicated the third volume of his Dramaturgische Monate to Jünger, on the occasion of the successful Hamburg premiere of Die Entführung on 25 Jun 1790 (on that production, see Schütze 1794, 633). Schink’s dedicatory preface is an illuminating expression of the sentiments of a friend and peer:
Die Aufführung deines Lustspiels: die
Entführung, lieber Jünger, hat
mir so viel Vergnügen gemacht, daß ich
Dir öffentlich dafür danken muß. Ich
erkenne darin die alte Jovialität wieder,
die mich so oft in deinen Schriften anzog,
und in deinem Umgang zu Wien, mir so
manche fröhliche Stunde machte.
The performance of your comedy Die
Entführung, dear Jünger, gave me so
much pleasure that I have to thank
you publicly for it. I recognize again in it
the old joviality that so often drew
me to your writings and gave me so
many happy hours in your company
After praising the Hamburg production and its actors (which included Schröder and his wife), Schink continues:
Nimm diesen dritten Band meiner
dramaturgischen Monate, als ein Zeichen
meiner Lieb’ und Freundschaft, von mir an.
Du hast auf meine dramaturgischen Kennt=
nisse immer etwas gehalten, und, so denk’
ich, soll Dir meine Zueignung Vergnügen
machen. Fahre fort, durch Deine heitre
Laune zum frohen Genuß des Lebens etwas
beizutragen, und bleibe mein Freund.
Gruß und Kuß jedem, der in Wien den
Nahmen Schink lieb hat, es sey Mann
oder Weib! Unveränderlich
[Schink, Dramturgische Monate, vol. 3, preface]
Accept this third volume of my
Dramaturgische Monate as a token
of my love and friendship. You have
always set store by my dramaturgical
knowledge, and so I think that my
dedication will give you pleasure.
Continue on, through your cheerful whimsy,
contributing to the happy enjoyment of
life, and remain my friend. Greet and
kiss those in Vienna who are fond of
the name Schink, be it man or woman!
Jünger’s plays were popular with audiences during his lifetime, and remained so for several decades after his death. Many of Jünger’s works are adaptations from French or English originals, but a comparison of Jünger’s Er mengt sich in Alles with its model, Centlivre’s The Busie Body, shows that the adaptation is by no means merely a translation. Er mengt sich in Alles thoroughly reworks the material into a form aimed at the tastes of the local Viennese audience, and it especially shows Jünger’s gift for natural dialogue. (Centlivre’s dialogue is highly witty and entertaining, but no one would call it natural.) One suspects that Jünger’s apprenticeship with his merchant uncle in Chemnitz, however useless it seemed to him at the time, offered him the opportunity to hone his skills in French and English to a degree that became fundamental to his career as a writer. Nor did Jünger merely adapt preexisting works: he also wrote a substantial number of original plays (including some of his most popular ones), novels, and stories.
Apart from his acquaintance with Mozart and his reference to Mozart in Er mengt sich in Alles, little is known about Jünger’s relationship to music. So far as we know, he did not play an instrument. But there are several hints that Jünger may have had a stronger interest in music than might at first appear. As we have seen, he expressed wonder at the great musical gifts of his Leipzig friend Friedrich Andreas Gallisch, and we have seen that he named as his sole heir a young woman, Elisabeth von Stirn, who was (according to Ignaz de Luca) one of the leading pianists in Vienna. In a letter to his Leipzig contemporary Christian Gottfried Körner in 1794 (Wienbibliothek, H. I. N. 41734), Jünger writes that he is sending Körner and his wife Minna (sister of the artist Dora Stock) the song Abendempfindung an Laura (K. 523), which he calls “die schönste Mozartsche Cantate” (the most beautiful Mozart cantata). Later that same year, in a letter to his publisher Göschen in Leipzig, Jünger asks Göschen to send him the music (he writes “Musikalien”, thus scores, not merely libretti) for Schuster’s Das Lob der Musik, as well as Georg Benda’s Der Dorfjahrmarkt, Romeo und Julia, and (if available) Der Walder (Holtei 1872, i/2:73–74). Jünger also wrote at least one singspiel libretto, Der blinde Ehemann (his role in a second libretto, Der Gutsherr, set by Dittersdorf as Der Schiffspatron, is less clear).
Jünger was a highly successful comic playwright for the German-language stage in an era lacking in noteworthy comic playwrights in German. His long popularity suggests that Jünger’s oeuvre is overdue for reassessment. For now, we can leave the last word to Christian Gotthilf Salzmann, who in 1802, five years after Jünger’s death, gave the following appraisal:
Frisches Colorit, leichte, gefällige Erzählung machen sei=
ne Romane zu einer unterhaltenden und erheiternden
Lectüre, ungeachtet sie einer gewissen höhern Vollkom=
menheit ermanglen. Noch größer sind seine Verdien=
ste um die Teutsche Bühne, auf welcher seine vielen
Lustspiele Vergnügen verbreiten, und, wiewohl er
nicht eigentlich Erfinder ist, sondern sich mit glückli=
cher Leichtigkeit ausländische und einheimische Erfin=
dungen aneignet und durch seine Bearbeitung in sein
Eigenthum verwandelt: so berechtigt doch sein echter
komischer Witz, das Lustige seiner Intriguen, sein
leichter, natürlicher Dialog, seine Sprache der Con=
versation, ihn unter die vorzüglichsten Teutschen Lieb=
linge Thaliens zu setzen, durch dessen Tod das Lust=
spiel, das nur zu sehr durch unsern Hang zum
Trauerspiele, zum Schauspiele und zu Opern ver=
drängt wird, einen großen Verlust erlitten hat.
Hätte Jünger zu glücklichen Naturgaben noch mehr
Studium gebracht und sich nicht bald durch ökonomi=
sche Umstände, bald durch die Leichtigkeit, womit er
arbeitete, zum Schnellschreiben verführen lassen: er
wäre unsrer Bewunderung werth.
[Salzmann 1802, 595–96]
Fresh atmosphere, light and pleasing narrative
make his novels an entertaining and exhilarating read,
despite lacking a certain higher perfection. Still
greater are his services to the German stage, on
which his many comedies bring much pleasure; and
even though he is not really an innovator, but instead
appropriates, with happy facility, foreign and domestic
creations, and through his adaptations makes them
his own: thus his genuine comic wit, the humor of his
intrigues, his easy, natural dialogue, and conversational
speech, justify placing him among the greatest of Thalia’s
favorites in Germany, through whose death comedy—
which has been far too overshadowed by our inclination
to tragedy, drama, and opera—has suffered a great loss.
If Jünger had brought even more study to his fortunate
natural gifts and if economic circumstances and the ease
with which he worked had not seduced him into writing
too quickly, he would be worthy of our veneration.