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Gottlieb Pfeffel

(1736- 1809)

Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel was a French-German writer and translator, whose texts were put to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert. He is sometimes also known as Amédée or Théophile Conrad Pfeffel, which is the French translation of Gottlieb ("Godlove").

Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel was born in Colmar. His father, Johann Konrad Pfeffel, was the mayor of Colmar and a legal consultant of the French king, but died when Gottlieb was only two years old. He was raised by his brother Christian Friedrich Pfeffel, who was ten years older. He went in 1751 to the University of Halle to study Law, with the intention of becoming a diplomat. There, he was a student of the philosopher Christian Wolff. In 1752, he translated Johann Joachim Spalding's Gedanken über den Werth der Gefühle in dem Christenthum in French. In 1754, he went to Dresden for treatment of an eye problem; there, he met the poet Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. His eye condition deteriorated, and in 1758, after an operation, he became completely blind and had to abandon his studies.

In February 1759, he married Margaretha Cleophe Divoux, a merchant's daughter from Strasbourg. They had thirteen children together, of which 7 died before adulthood. He started to establish himself as a writer and translator. In 1762, he translated Magnus Gottfried Lichtwer's Fabeln in French. He also worked on a translation into German of Claude Fleury's Histoire ecclésiastique. He opened a military academy for aristrocratic Protestants in 1773, since these boys were not allowed at the military academy of Paris. He joined the Helvetic Society in 1776, and in 1782 became a citizen of the city of Biel (Bienne) in Switzerland, and became an honorary member of the city council in 1783. The Prussian Academy of Arts made him an honorary member in 1788.

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