Greif in 1898
Friedrich Hermann Frey
18 June 1839
|Died||1 April 1911 (aged 71)|
Martin Greif, born Friedrich Hermann Frey (18 June 1839 - 1 April 1911) was a German freelance writer of poems and of dramas which were performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna and the Bavarian Court Theatre in Munich. His songs inspired compositions by Max Reger and Alban Berg, among others.
Friedrich Hermann Frey was born in Speyer, the son of Max Frey, who had served as Kabinettsrat of Otto of Greece, and his wife Adelheid Friederike, née Ehrmann. The family moved to Munich, where he made the Abitur. He joined the Bavarian military and was promoted to Offizier in 1859. He retired from the military in 1867 to live as a freelance writer. His first publications, enabled by Eduard Mörike were poems, published in 1868 by Cotta'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung unter the pen name Martin Greif, which he used as his official name from 1882 on. In 1869 he moved to Vienna, where many of his plays were successfully performed at the Burgtheater, thank to its artistic director Heinrich Laube. When Laube left the post, Greif returned to Munich and wrote patriotic dramas performed at the Bavarian Court Theatre.
Greif's drama on Agnes Bernauer has remained in the repertory of Bavarian lay theatre. Several of Greif's poems appeared in anthologies such as Hausbuch Deutscher Lyrik. His poem "Das klagende Lied" possibly inspired Gustav Mahler's cantata of the same name, written from 1878 on with a libretto by the composer. Several of Greif's poems were set to music, for example "Der zerrißne Grabkranz" by Max Reger as part of his Sechs Lieder, Op. 4. Alban Berg set his poem "Schattenleben" ("Phantom Life") in 1903 among his early songs, Anton Webern set his poem "Hochsommernacht".
His works include: