1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Becker, Heinrich

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BECKER, HEINRICH (1770–1822), German actor, whose real name was Blumenthal, was born at Berlin. He obtained, while quite a young man, an appointment in the court theatre at Weimar, at that time under Goethe’s auspices. The poet recognized his talent, appointed him stage-manager, entrusted him with several of the leading roles in his dramas and consulted him in all matters connected with the staging of his plays. For many years Becker was the favourite of the Weimar stage, and although he was at his best in comedy, he played, to Goethe’s great satisfaction, Vansen in Egmont, and was also seen to great advantage in the leading parts of several of Schiller’s plays; notably Burleigh in Maria Stuart, Karl Moor in Die Räuber, and Antonio in Torquato Tasso. Becker left Weimar in the spring of 1809, played for a short time at Hamburg (under Schröder) and at Breslau, and then began a wandering life, now joining travelling companies, now playing at provincial theatres. Broken in health and ruined in fortune he returned in 1820 to Weimar, where he was again cordially received by Goethe, who reinstated him at the theatre. After playing for two short years with indifferent success, he died at Weimar in 1822.

Becker was twice married. His first wife, Christiane Luise Amalie Becker (1778–1797), was the daughter of a theatrical manager and dramatic poet, Johann Christian Neumann, and made her first stage appearance in 1787 at Weimar. Here she received some training from Goethe and from Corona Schröter, the singer, and her beauty and charm made her the favourite both of court and public. She married Heinrich Becker in 1793. She died on the 22nd of September 1797. Her last part was that of Euphrosyne in the opera Das Petermännchen, and it is under this name that Goethe immortalized her in a poem which first appeared in Schiller’s Musen Almanack of 1799.