Schiller’s William Tell: A People’s Fight for Freedom

Friedrich Schiller is a name beloved in Germany as the “poet of freedom”, and while festivals were once held in his honor across the English speaking world just a few generations ago, his memory has sadly fallen into the shadows.

Despite that, Schiller’s life and works of drama and poetry inspired not only the greatest musical works by Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms but also the patriotic movements France, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Russia and of course his own native Germany.

In this presentation, Artists Alliance for Africa President Nicholas Jones introduces the great drama Wilhelm Tell which Schiller wrote at the end of his life and which shaped the republican character of the swiss nation on the one hand while also honoring the ideals of America’s Declaration of Independence in the form of the famous ‘Rutli Oath’. The attributes of a wholly integrated human being whose passions and ideals have harmonized are expressed in the figure of the hero Wilhelm Tell who never blinks twice when his life and conscience are measured against the need to resist tyranny and liberate his nation.

Nicholas goes even further to explore how this story electrified the swiss people and created the cultural conditions that have made Switzerland an economic and scientific powerhouse in our modern age which is being given new life through its participation in China’s growing Belt and Road Initiative.

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