Hans Sachs

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Sachs, Hans

(häns zäks), 1494–1576, German poet, leading meistersingermeistersinger
[Ger.,=mastersinger], a member of one of the musical and poetic guilds that flourished in German cities during the 15th and 16th cent. The guilds or schools comprised chiefly artisans who claimed artistic descent from the courtly minnesingers.
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 of the Nuremberg school. A shoemaker and guild master, he wrote more than 4,000 master songs in addition to some 2,000 fables, tales in verse (Schwanke), morality plays, and farces. His Shrovetide plays, humorous and dramatically effective, present an informative picture of life in 16th-century Nuremberg. An ardent follower of Luther, Sachs wrote the poem "The Nightingale of Wittenberg" in Luther's honor. Many of his melodies were later adapted as Protestant hymn tunes. Hans Sachs is a principal character in several operas, notably in Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sachs, Hans


Born Nov. 5, 1494, in Nuremberg; died there Jan. 19, 1576. German poet and composer.

Sachs attended a Latin school. In 1520 he became a master cobbler. He was an actor and the director of an amateur troupe. Expanding the poetic horizons of the meistergesang, he culled his subjects from life, from classical, medieval, and Renaissance literary sources, from popular books, and from anecdotes of the marketplace. Sachs wrote more than 6,000 works and was the author of the words and music for many songs. In his charming Fastnachtsspiele (Shrovetide plays), with their touching naïveté characteristic of popular literature, and in his Schwanken (short narrative songs), he depicted with humor the simple-mindedness of peasants, family quarrels, the profligacy of Catholic clerics, the riotous conduct of the lansquenets, and the amusing pranks of clever tramps. Best known are his farces The Schoolboy in Paradise and The Peddler’s Basket. Sachs condemned the growth of self-interest and the dissension among the princes, but his moralizing is not without philistine features. Sachs was the inspiration for the main character in operas by A. Jirovec, A. Lortzing (Hans Sachs, 1834) and R. Wagner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, 1868).


Werke, vols. 1–2. Edited by K. M. Schiller. Weimar, 1960.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.


Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962.
Genée, R. Hans Sachs undseine Zeit, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1902.
Geiger, E. Der Meistergesang des Hans Sachs. Bern, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.