Johann Gabriel Seidl
Poet, author of the present Austrian national hymn, b. at Vienna, 21 June 1804; d. there, 17 July, 1875. The family of Seidl was of Swiss origin, Johann's grandparents having settled in Austria. The poet's father is described as an able lawyer, and his mother as a good housewife. After passing through the gymnasium with the greatest success, their only son attended the university at the age of fifteen to devote the then usual two years to philosophy. On the completion of this period, he applied himself to the study of jurisprudence, but the early death of his father compelled him to support himself and his mother by acting as private tutor. Consequently he exchanged jurisprudence for pedagogy, passed his qualifying examination in this faculty in 1827, and two years later was appointed to the state gymnasium in Cilli. Before moving thither he married Therese Schlesinger, who bore him two children. The laudatory necrologies which a false report of his death evoked both at home and abroad, attracted the attention of the authorities, so that after eleven happy years at Cilli he had to return again to Vienna as custodian of the imperial cabinet of medals and antiques. A little later he was appointed censor of books, an office which he filled until 1848. He was then elected corresponding, and in 1851 regular, member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. After his version of the Haschka national anthem had been declared the authentic text, honors were heaped on the poet: the knight's cross of the Order of Franz Joseph, medal for art and science, the post of imperial treasurer (1856), and appointment as ministerial counsel (1866). In 1871 he received a pension and was simultaneously invested with the Order of the Iron Crown of the third class; on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, he received the title and character of an aulic councillor. The town of Cilli named him an honorary freeman. Shortly afterwards his health began to fail. His death was characterized by the same piety which had marked his life. In 1892 the municipal council of Vienna dedicated to him an honorary grave in the Zentralfriedhof, and at the centenary of his birth a bust and memorial tablet were unveiled at his former residence in Cilli. Seidl was a very fruitful poet and author, and the enumeration of his works occupies twenty-five pages in Godeke's "Grundriss". Only a few, however, have an interest for modern readers. Of the numerous collections of poems the "Bifolien" are still of interest, but his novels, sixty in number, are long forgotten. For drama he had no talent, however much he strove after the palm of dramatic poetry. His best compositions are his dialectic poems, "Flinserln", of which many have become real folksongs of Austria. His name is immortally linked with his adaptation of the Austrian national anthem. As a scholar Seidl was tirelessly active. Still prized are his collections of legends, and also his contribution to the "Stizungsberichten der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften", to scientific, historical, and geographical journals and to the "Zeitschrift fur die österreichischen Gymnasien", founded in 1850.
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