Michael Beer (poet)

Michael Beer (19 August 1800, Berlin – 22 March 1833, Munich) was a German Jewish poet, author and playwright.

Michael beer
Michael Beer (c. 1830, artist unknown)

Early life

Beer was born to a wealthy Jewish family. His elder brother was the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer; another brother was the astronomer Wilhelm Beer.

In the period 1817–1823 he frequently travelled with family members in Italy, where his brother Meyerbeer was studying.

In 1819 Beer was a founder member of the movement Verein für Cultur und Wissenschaft der Juden (Association for Culture and Science of the Jews), which attempted to provide an intellectual framework for considering the Jews as a people in their own right, and to validate their secular cultural traditions as being on an equal footing with those of the German people. Beer's co-founders included Eduard Gans, Moses Moser, Heinrich Heine and Leopold Zunz.[1]


The first of Beer's works to be performed was Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), (1819), influenced by the classicism of Goethe. His second stage-work Die Bräute von Aragonien (The Brides of Aragon), was also suggested by Goethe's poetry.[2]

Far superior to these early works was the one-act play Der Paria (The Pariah), premiered in Berlin in 1823, and admired by Goethe, which was soon played on stages across Germany. In the play, the pariah Gadhi and his wife Maja choose to die so as to enable their son to live freely.[3] The work can be construed as a cry of pain about the pariah status of Judaism in early nineteenth-century Germany. This is a topic which constantly recurs in Beer's correspondence with Meyerbeer.[4] Beer's 1827 drama Struensee (based on the life of the German-Danish reformer Johann Friedrich Struensee) was initially banned from production in Prussia, and was premiered in 1828 in Munich, where Beer had briefly settled and where he became a friend of Schelling.[5] Not until 1846 (thirteen years after the author's death) did the relaxation of censorship enable a performance in Berlin; for this King Frederick William IV commissioned Meyerbeer to provide an overture and incidental music.[6]

Beer's poetic output includes a series of 'Elegies' written in Italy, a protest at the injustice of criminal sentencing (Im Gerichtssaal), and a satirical poem on the paradoxes of extreme religiosity (Der fromme Rabbi).

Later life

Beer's personality is known mainly through his correspondence with his family and with the playwright Karl Leberecht Immermann.[7] Beer spent many of his last years in Paris where he was acquainted with Heinrich Heine, Ferdinand Hiller and Felix Mendelssohn, who was an occasional chess-partner.[8]

Beer's early death was attributed to neurasthenia.[9] He is buried with his parents and siblings in the Jewish cemetery in Schönhauser Allee, Berlin.

Michael Beer Foundation

Beer was, in the tradition of his family, generous of his wealth and supported scholars and artists, including the orientalist Salomon Munk.[10] He bequeathed a large fortune, which was turned into a foundation administered by the Berlin Academy of Arts. The annual income of the Michael Beer Foundation was awarded to two young artists, who had to be Jewish; this financed a one-year study period in Italy, of which they had to spend at least eight months in Rome.[11]


  1. ^ Sachar (1990), 163
  2. ^ Kahn (1976), 151
  3. ^ Kahn (1976), 151, 155-6
  4. ^ Conway (2012), 167-8
  5. ^ Espagne (1996), 60
  6. ^ Becker (1989), 108-9
  7. ^ Kahn (1976), 152
  8. ^ Hiller (1874), 23
  9. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, 'Beer, Michael'
  10. ^ Esapgne (1996), 193-4
  11. ^ Kahn (1976), 158
  • Becker, Heinz & Gudrun, tr. Mark Violette (1989). Giacomo Meyerbeer: A Life in Letters. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-931340-19-5
  • Conway, David (2012). Jewry in Music - Entry to the Profession from the Enlightenment to Richard Wagner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-01538-8.
  • Espagne, Michel (1996). Les juif allemands de Paris à l'époque de Heine: la translation ashkénase. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN 9782130475316.
  • Hiller, Ferdinand, tr. M.E. von Glehn (1874). Felix Mendelssohn: Letters and Recollections. London: Macmillan.
  • Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). 'Beer, Michael'
  • Kahn, Lothar (1976). 'Michael Beer (1800–1833)', in Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 1976, pp. 149–160
  • Sachar, Howard M. (1990). The Course of Modern Jewish History. New York:Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-72746-0.
Beer (surname)

Beer is an English and German surname. Notable people with this surname include the following:

Alan Beer (born 1950), Welsh footballer

Alexander Beer (1873–1944), German architect

Alice Beer (born 1965), English television presenter

Angelika Beer (born 1957), German politician (Alliance '90/The Greens)

Anthony Stafford Beer (1926–2002), English theorist in operational research, founder of management cybernetics

Arthur Beer (1900–1980), German astronomer

August Beer (1825–1863), German mathematician, chemist and physicist

Axel Beer (born 1956), German musicologist

Carol Beer, a fictional character from British comedy show Little Britain, portrayed by David Walliams

Charles Beer (born 1941), Canadian politician

Edwin Beer (1876–1938), American surgeon

Ferdinand P. Beer (1915–2003), French mechanical engineer and university professor

Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer (1899–1972), English evolutionary embryologist

Georg Joseph Beer (1763–1821), Austrian physician, founder of the research center of ophthalmology

George Louis Beer (1872–1920), American historian

Giacomo Meyerbeer (born Yaakov Liebmann Beer) (1791–1864), German composer, brother of Wilhelm Beer and writer Michael Beer

Gillian Beer (born 1935), English literary critic

Israel Beer (1912–1966), Israeli senior official convicted of espionage

Jannie de Beer (born 1971), South Africa rugby player

Jens Henrik Beer (1799–1881), Norwegian businessperson, farmer and politician

Joseph Beer (1908–1987), operetta composer

Joseph Beer (clarinetist) (1744–1811)

Klaus Beer (born 1942), German track & field athlete

Madison Beer (born 1999), American singer and actress

Maggie Beer (born 1945), Australian chef

Max Josef Beer (1851–1908), Austrian composer

Michael Beer (cricketer) (born 1984), Australian cricketer

Michael Beer (poet) (1800–1833), German poet

Oliver Beer (born 1979), German footballer

Peter Hill Beer (1928–2018), American judge and politician

Phil Beer (born 1953), English multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer

Randall Beer, American computer scientist

Richard Beer-Hofmann (1866–1945), Austrian writer

Seth Beer (born 1996), American baseball player

Vivian Beer (born 1977), American designer and artist

Wilhelm Beer (1797–1850), German banker and astronomer

Will Beer (born 1988), English cricketer

Michael Beer

Michael Beer may refer to:

Michael Beer (cricketer) (born 1984), Australian cricketer

Michael Beer (poet) (1800–1833), German poet

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