Walther von Goethe

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Walther Wolfgang von Goethe
Walther Wolfgang Goethe Litho.jpg
Born(1818-04-09)9 April 1818
Died15 April 1885(1885-04-15) (aged 67)
FatherAugust von Goethe
MotherOttilie von Goethe
OccupationComposer, court chamberlain

Walther Wolfgang Freiherr von Goethe (9 April 1818 – 15 April 1885) was a German composer and court chamberlain. He was one of the grandsons and last living descendant of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Goethe was the eldest child of August and Ottilie von Goethe. He was always frail when he grew up and did not attend public school. He had his first music lesson when he was fifteen with the Weimar Kapellmeister Karl Eberwein.[1] Later, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy taught him to play the piano, because he showed musical talent. He achieved little success with his songs and operas, weighted down by his name. In 1825, Weimar City Council awarded him, his father and his brother civil rights of residence in Weimar in perpetuity.[2]

Above all in 1842, he opposed the suggestion of the German Confederation to acquire the Goethe House in Weimar and the estate of the poet for the nation. He lived mainly in the attic of the Goethe House. In 1859, he and his brother were made Freiherr (Baron).

Goethe died 1885 on a journey to Leipzig. Like stated in his will, the Goethe House, together with the library and extensive collection, was bequeathed to the state of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. This allowed the Goethe Museum to be founded.

Goethe was the last descendant of the poet and, like his brother and sister, had no descendants. His gravestone states: "With him ends Goethe's dynasty, the name will last forever."


  1. ^ Die Warte. Supplement des Luxemburger Wort. 13. Januar 2011, S. 7–10.
  2. ^ Karl Robert Mandelkow: Goethes Briefe. Hamburger Ausgabe in vier Bänden. Bd. 4: Briefe der Jahre 1821–1832. 2. Auflage. Christian Wegner Verlag, Hamburg 1976, S. 575.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hartmut Schmidt, Irmgard Kräupl-Mohamed: Walther von Goethe zum 100. Todestag am 15.4.1985. Schrift Nr. 43, Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf 1985 (in German)
  • Wolfgang Vulpius: Walther Wolfgang von Goethe und der Nachlass seines Großvaters. (Beiträge zur Deutschen Klassik, Band 14). Arion Verlag, Weimar 1962 (in German)