Weimar

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Weimar

Weimar (vī´mär), city (1994 pop. 58,807), E Thuringia, central Germany, on the Ilm River. It is an industrial, transportation, and cultural center. Manufactures include agricultural machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and furniture. Known in the 10th cent., Weimar became important only in the 16th cent. when it was made the capital of the duchy (after 1815 the grand duchy) of Saxe-Weimar. It developed as a cultural center of international importance. Under Elector John Frederick I, the painter Lucas Cranach, the elder, worked there (16th cent.), and from 1708 to 1717 Johann Sebastian Bach was court organist and concertmaster at Weimar. Under Dowager Duchess Amalia (1739–1807) and her son, Charles Augustus (1775–1828), Weimar reached the peak of its fame as a cultural center. After the arrival (1775) of Goethe at the court, Weimar and Goethe became virtually synonymous. Goethe not only made Weimar the literary capital of Europe during his lifetime, but he also attracted such men as Herder and Schiller, established and directed the Weimar theater, and as chief minister of Charles Augustus was active in the physical improvement of the city. The Weimar state theater was the site of the first performances of most of Goethe's and many of Schiller's plays. After Goethe's death (1832) Weimar lived mainly on its past reputation, but its active cultural life continued. Franz Liszt was musical director there in the mid-19th cent., and Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin was first performed (1850) in Weimar. The fact that Friedrich Nietzsche lived and died at Weimar resulted in the foundation there of the important Nietzsche Archives by his sister. In 1919, Weimar was the scene of the German national assembly that established the republican government known as the "Weimar Republic." The Bauhaus art school was first established (1919) in Weimar. Among the landmarks of the city are the parish church, with the graves of Lucas Cranach and Herder and with an altarpiece by Cranach; the former grand ducal palace (built 1789–1803) and the ducal crypt with the graves of Goethe and Schiller; Belvedere castle (1724–32); the residences of Goethe, Schiller, and Liszt; Goethe's garden cottage; the state theater; the Goethe National Museum; and the nearby ducal castle of Tiefurt. The city has a state college of music and an academy of art and architecture, and it is the seat of the Goethe and Schiller archives. Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp (1937–45), was located nearby; it is now the site of a memorial to the 56,000 who died there.

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