Heiner Müller  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Heiner Müller (January 9, 1929December 30, 1995) was an East German dramatist and writer.


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

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

Due to his growing world-wide fame, Müller was able to gain more widespread acceptance in East Germany again, as well. He was admitted to the Academy of Arts of the GDR in 1984 — only two years before he became a member of the Academy of the Arts of West Berlin. Despite earlier honors, Müller was not readmitted to the East German Writers' Association until 1988, shortly before the end of the GDR. After the fall of the Wall, Müller even became president of the Academy of the Arts of the GDR for a short time in 1990.

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

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


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