Portrait of Karl Ludwig Nietzsche

Karl Ludwig Nietzsche (1813-1849)


Tuesday, October 15 at approximately 10 am: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (hereafter "FN") born in Röcken. Parents: Karl Ludwig (1813-1849) and Franziska (1826-1897 maiden name Oehler). FN is named after the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV, as a demonstration of loyalty but also because of the coincidence of FN's birthday with the king's. FN is baptized on October 24 and as his baptismal verse, Karl Ludwig selects Luke 1:66: "Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, 'What then is this child going to be?' For the Lord's hand was with him." [NIV]

Röcken was a small, quite rural village, roughly midway between Naumburg and Leipzig. Although FN's family lives here only five years, the family will be buried here: Karl Ludwig (1849), Franziska (1897), FN (1900), and Elisabeth (1935). [Chronik p. 9]

FN was related to Richard Wagner (1813-1883), as their mothers were related. They had a common ancestor in Caspar Spörel (1530-1600?), once mayor of Saalburg. FN was also related to: Johann Elias Schlegel (1719-1749; he attended Schulpforta, as did FN, and one of J Schlegel's schoolmates was the poet Klopstock) and his nephews August Whilhelm (1767-1845) and Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829) the famous Romantics; the field marshal Neithart von Gneisenau (1760-1831), who fought against Napoleon; the poet Julius Sturm (1816-1896) pastor of Goschitz near Schleiz and later of his home village of Kostritz; and Samuel von Pufendorf (1632-1694) a well-known natural law professor. [Janz I p. 32]


Nietzsche's family tree

FN's mother, Franziska Ernestine Rosaura Oehler, was sixth of eleven children born to David Ernst Oehler (1787-1859) and his wife Whilhelmine (1794-1876, nee Hahn) during the period 1817 to 1839. David Oehler studied theology at Leipzig from 1807 to 1810 and in 1815 was appointed paster of the parish at Pobles, an office he held until his death.

Arthur Schopenhauer publishes the second edition of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung [The World as Will and Representation], adding an entire volume to what was published as the first edition.

Portrait of Franziska Nietzsche

Franziska Nietzsche (1826-1897)


Erwin Rohde is born in Hamburg.


July 10: Elisabeth Therese Alexandra Nietzsche (1846-1935) born. Prior to his move to Röcken, Karl Ludwig had served as a tutor to the daughters of the duke of Saxe-Altenburg: Elisabeth, Therese, and Alexandra. In a show of loyalty similar to that with his son, Karl Ludwig bestowed the names of all three princesses on his daughter.


February 27: Ludwig Joseph is born.

Because of Karl's fondness for the Prussian king, it is forbidden in the Nietzsche household to mention the revolutions that are taking place throughout Europe.

August: Karl Ludwig suffers a head injury of some sort, supposedly from a fall, initiating a process of brain degeneration that will result in his death eleven months later (cf. one opinion, to be found at the end of the 1900 page, that Karl Ludwig suffered a stroke). He delivers his last sermon on September 17. He soon loses his capacity to speak and eventually his sight. [Chronik p. 12]



The death of Nietzsche's father

July 30: Karl Ludwig dies at age 35.

Adele Schopenhauer, sister of the philosopher, dies at the age of 52.

Paul Rée is born on 21 November.


January 4: Joseph dies.

The family now consists of FN's grandmother Erdmuthe Nietzsche (1778-1856 nee Krause), two paternal aunts, Auguste (1810-1855) and Rosalie (1811-1867), FN's mother Franziska, and FN's sister Elisabeth. In April, the family must leave Röcken, vacating the pastor's house for the new pastor. At the urging of the grandmother, the family moves to Naumburg, where she had lived prior to her marriage. Franziska is supported by means of a small pension (so-called "Witwengeld" or "widow's money") and some Nietzsche family money.

The family visits Franziska's parents in Pobles twice (mid-May and in September, the latter to avoid an outbreak of cholera). In May, FN's grandfather David Ernst Oehler (1787-1859) tutors FN because of FN's weak school performance.


FN receives his initial piano lessons. His first musical sketch, a melody fragment, dates from this year.

Schopenhauer publishes Parerga und Paralipomena.


FN is initially enrolled in the public school (Knaben-Bürgerschule). The school does not suit him, so he is transferred to a private school to prepare him for entry into Naumburg's Domgymnasium (literally "cathedral school," so called because of its location next to the Naumburg church).

Beginning of FN's friendship with Wilhelm Pinder (also born in 1844) and Gustav Krug (1844-1902). Krug's and Pinder's fathers were both lawyers. The senior Krug was acquainted with Clara and Robert Schumann and close friends with the composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (who is Gustav Krug's Taufpate); he himself was reputed to be a player of some talent. This close childhood friendship with Pinder and Krug does not long survive FN's move to Basel. FN's turn away from Wagner is to be especially baffling, especially to Krug.

September: the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm, for whom FN is named, visits Naumburg.


In May, FN hears a performance of Händel's Messiah and is so inspired that he attempts some initial compositions. In his memoirs, Pinder recalls that FN was a skilled piano player.

In late September, FN enters the Domgymnasium. He must study extra hours at night in order to keep up with Greek. FN typically rises at 5 a.m. to begin his school day.

Musical compositions include sketches and exercises for piano.

Heinrich Köselitz, later known as Peter Gast, is born in Annaberg on January 10th.


FN's aunt Auguste dies of a lung ailment in July.


FN and Pinder compose a short play "Die Götter auf dem Olymp" [The Gods on Olympus]. The cast includes Krug as Jupiter, Pinder as Mercury and Apollo, FN as Mars, Sophie Pinder as Diana, Gredchen Pinder as Juno, Elisabeth as Pallas Athena. [KGB I-4, p. 38]

April 3: FN's grandmother Erdmuthe Nietzsche dies. As a consequence, FN's aunt Rosalie moves into her own lodgings and FN's family moves to rooms at the address Marienmauer 623 (today street number 2).

During a trip to Leipzig, FN visits the Clemm music store and purchases the score for Beethoven's piano sonata Op. 49. Later in the month he will order the score of Beethoven's piano sonata Op 7.

Fall: FN is given leave from school due to headaches and eyestrain. His aunts recommend that he relieve his eyestrain by bathing his eyes with Kornbranntwein. FN spends much of his free time at the piano.

Musical compositions include two sonata fragments (D major and G major); "Orkadal" Trauerspiel mit Overtü für Klavier 4 hdg [tragedy with overture for piano four hands]; Sonatine Op. 11. He also attends a performance of Mozart's Requiem in the Naumburg church. As a Christmas present he receives some of Haydn's symphonies transcribed for piano four hands. [Chronik, p. 38 and 40]

Allegro (excerpt)
Performed by Lauretta Altman
© 1995 Albany Records
Used with permission


First musical composition of FN's that is preserved: Allegro for piano.

Attends a performance of Haydn's Schöpfung [The Creation]. Composes a poem "Kleine Weihnachtsgabe für meine liebe Mutter" [a little Christmas present for my dear mother]. Musical compositions: Geburtstagssinphonie, Marcia, 2 Skizzen, Sonata, Overtür fü Streichorchester, "Es zieht ein stiller Engel," 4 stimmiger Satz und figuierter Choral (fragment).


In May, FN prepares a roster of 46 poems he has composed. July: attends a performance of Händel's Samson.

FN tutors his friend Pinder, who is often ill.

In early October FN's family moves to a house at Weingarten 335 (today number 18). Franziska later buys the house with FN's financial assistance and lives at the house until her death in 1897.

About this same time, FN moves to Schulpforta, about an hour's walk from Naumburg. At the time FN arrives, Pforta has a 350 year tradition and an impressive roster of alumni (including Klopstock, Fichte, Leopold von Ranke, and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff). The school has some 200 students. The school is very demanding and it is not uncommon for students to withdraw; at FN's time the Tertia numbered about 40 students while the Prima (final year or senior class) only 25.

The regimen at Pforta was strict and traditional. A typical day might go like this: 5 am wakeup; 5:30 morning prayer and a quick breakfast; 6 am classes commence; noon the main meal with prayer at 12:30; 2-4 pm afternoon classes; 4:15-5 reading hour; 5:15-7 homework; 7 evening meal; 8:30 prayer; 9 in bed with lights out and dormitory doors locked.

FN found the adjustment a difficult one. His classes commenced on October 6. He was able to visit Naumburg on some Sundays (such as October 31 and November 21). He spends the Christmas holiday (December 23 to January 3) in Naumburg.

Several preserved musical compositions: Fugen (fragment); Missa; and a sketch for choir and orchestra. One is Hoch tut euch auf for choir. As text FN uses Psalm 24, 7: "Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in." The other is Einleitung [Introduction] for piano duet.


Franz Overbeck begins his studies of theology. From 1856 to 1859, he studies in Göttingen; from 1859 to 1860 in Leipzig; and from 1860 to 1861 in Berlin.

FN divides his Easter holiday between Naumberg (April 12-16) and Pobles (April 16-27). Works on a play entitled Prometheus. Spends his summer vacation (called Hundstagferien, or dog's day vacation) half in Jena visiting an uncle and half again in Pobles (his last, as his grandfather dies shortly after FN's visit).

Initial acquaintance with Paul Deussen (1845-1919), a Pforta classmate. FN composes a Phantasie for piano duet as a Christmas present for Elisabeth.

Miserere (excerpt)
Performed by The Orpheus Singers
© 1995 Albany Records
Used with permission

Third edition of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung.


FN, Pinder, and Krug form the literary society "Germania." Each member is required to contribute, each month, an essay to be read aloud and discussed. The group pools their meager financial resources to subscribe to the publication Zeitschrift für Musik [Journal of Music] and to acquire the piano score of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. In the summer, FN composes a Miserere, for five part choir a capella, as a Germania contribution.

Summer vacation: from July 13-24, FN is in Gorenzen, where his maternal uncle Edmund Oehler (1832-1891) is pastor. He is joined there by Pinder and the two undertake hikes. On the way home they stop in the village Eisleben to see the Martin Luther house.

Arthur Schopenhauer dies peacefully in his quarters in Frankfurt am Main on September 21, at the age of 72.

Throughout the year FN works on his Christmas oratorium, adding two Hirtenchöre in October and additional parts in December.


Performed by Lauretta Altman
© 1995 Albany Records
Used with permission

Intense reading of the poetry of the then-unknown Hölderlin. FN calls Hölderlin, in a appraisal of the poetry written on 19 October, "mein Lieblingsdichter" [my very favorite poet]. The Pforta faculty, however, are less impressed with FN's choice. The teacher Karl August Koberstein gives FN the grade of 2-2a (roughly a B in the American system) on an essay on Hölderlin, writing as a marginal note: "Ich muß dem Verf[asser] doch den freundlichen Rath ertheilen, sich an einem gesundern, klareren, deutscheren Dichter zu halten." [To the author I must dispense the well-meaning advice to pursue a poet who is healthier, more clear, and more German]

From January 16 through February 17, FN is ill. He suffers from a variety of pains, including fever, which is diagnosed as "rheumatic sore throat and headache." He writes on February 16: "Ich habe es nun wahrhaftig satt mit diesen Kopfschmerzen; es wird nicht besser und kommt immer wieder. Die kleinste Anstrengung des Kopfes macht mir Schmerzen...Ich habe schon dran gedacht, ob ich nicht lieber ein Paar Wochen in Naumburg zubringe und mich da durch Spazierengehen kurire" [I'm now truly fed up with these headaches; they don't get any better and continually return. The tiniest exertion causes me pain... I've been thinking whether it wouldn't be better to spend a few weeks in Naumburg and cure myself by taking walks. (KSB 1 #214)]. FN is indeed give leave to go home to complete his cure, returning to Pforta on February 23.

FN is confirmed in early March. This does not prevent some heated arguments with his mother and sister during the subsequent Easter vacation (March 22-April 7) on questions about the relevance of Christian faith.

Musical compositions for this year include: Einleitung [Introduction] and a Presto, both for piano. There are also sketches for a Weihnachtsoratorium [Christmas Oratorium], which include another Einleitung for piano, and a work for choir, Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin [Watchman, is the night over soon?]. A final composition for the year is the song Mein Platz vor der Tür [My place before the door], using a text by the poet Klaus Groth. The title of one of FN's compositions is very characteristic: "Schmerz ist der Grundton der Natur" [Pain is the elemental tone of nature; piano four hands].

Zigeunertanz (excerpt)
Performed by Lauretta Altman
© 1995 Albany Records
Used with permission


FN's numerous musical compositions for the year include Heldenklage [Hero's Lament] for piano; Klavierstück, a fragment for piano; ungarischer Marsch [Hungarian March] for piano; Zigeunertanz [Gypsy Dance] for piano; and a piece entitled Edes titok, [Sweet Secret] for piano. Lost are Hungarian sketches: "Wilde Träume" [wild dreams]; "Impromptu," "Haideschenke."

Spends a week in the infirmary in both January and February due to headaches. Additional stays in the Pforta infirmary include five days in March ("Katarrh"), a week in June (again catarrh), a over a week in August (headache, after this bout FN is again allowed to recover at home in Naumburg), and four days in November (called rheumatism).

In a letter to Heinrich Köselitz (Peter Gast), written in 1900, Gersdorff recalls FN's skill at the piano: "Ich glaube nicht, daß Beethoven ergreifender phantasieren konnte als Nietzsche..." [I don't think Beethoven could more movingly improvise than Nietzsche...]


In his last year at Schulpforta, FN writes a lengthy essay in Latin on the life and work of Theognis of Megara. FN continues to work on this subject while a student at Bonn.

During the summer, Germania ceases to function. The reasons were both the work requirements (a monthly contribution) and FN's sharp criticisms of Pinder's and Krug's work. On April 12 FN, together with another Pforta student, drinks four glasses of beer and returns to Pforta intoxicated. FN's punishment includes the loss of an hour's recess on Sunday.

In late September, FN is promoted to the highest class at Pforta, the so-called Oberprima. One of his classmates, Raimund Granier, recalls that at this time "Sein [FN] später so außerordentlich starker Schnurrbart fing schon auf der Schule an, sich zu zeigen." [His moustache, later so extraordinarily thick, began to appear when he was still at school].

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