Early life and education
Widely respected by his contemporaries in early youth, he found himself increasingly drawn into a new poetische Welt (world of poetry) in his mid-teens, showing a particular interest in folklore, fairy tales and diverse French literature. He said of himself, "I lived in a fantasy world and was on the way to becoming a complete obsessive." Despite these early Romantic daydreams, he was able to apply himself to his school work and was, at age 16, a model student.
Given his upbringing, it is probably unsurprisingly that he initially studied theology at the Georg-August University of Göttingen from 1806. He went on to study philosophy, literature and aesthetics from 1808, and received his doctorate in 1812. Afterward, he devoted himself to philology, which he taught privately in Göttingen. During his time at university he became a member of the Göttingen 'Corps Hannovera', one of the original German Student Corps.
Schulze's early post-graduation lectures reflected his particular poetical interests, particularly Ancient Greek lyric poetry; his first two lectures were entitled „Ueber die Geschichte der lyrischen Poesie bey den Griechen“ and „Metrik […] und Prometheus des Aeschylus“. Perhaps more importantly than his profession, however, became his love for Cäcilie Tychsen, daughter of the Orientalist and theologian Thomas Christian Tychsen. Cäcilie and her sister Adelheid were regarded by as Göttingen society as beautiful and musically talented and Schulze first met Cäcilie in 1811. A brief romance followed, which intensified on Schulze's part after Cäcilie fell incurably sick from pulmonary tuberculosis the following year at the age of eighteen. The couple's engagement came shortly before Cäcilie's death on 3 December 1812. Schulze wrote, "In Cäcilie, whilst truly chaste, I was made many times more beautiful and wonderful. It was what, perhaps, I could become if there were immortality, instead of now residing in gloom."
He was the author of many poems, among them a Poetisches Tagebuch (Poetic Diary), ten of the poems from which were set to music as lieder by Franz Schubert. The autobiographical information contained therein, in poetic form, came about largely under the influence of his engagement to Cäcilie Tychsen, and her subsequent death. Her early demise, in whose memory his epic Cäcilia (1818) was written, clouded all of his later life.
Typical of this influence is a reference in Um Mitternacht (1815), subsequently set to music by Schubert:
Ach, nur einmal, nur verstohlen
Dein geliebtes Bild zu sehn,
Wollt' ich gern in Sturm und Wetter
Bis zum späten Morgen stehn!
Ah, if only once, only secretly
I might again see your belovèd form,
I would, through storm and weather,
Stand until the late morning.
Whilst the vast majority of his writings are Romantic in style and mainly in allegorical form, other poems, such as Lebensmut ('Courage'), were written as a result of his time as a volunteer in the fight for liberation against Napoleon's French Empire.
His last epic romantic work Die Bezauberte Rose (1818) is a poem of classic beauty of style. It is in three cantos, comprising 107 stanzas of ottava rima. The 'enchanted rose' is a princess named Klothilde who has been placed under a spell. After various, powerful suitors have failed to secure her release, the minstrel Alpino is successful and she is restored to her proper form.
In a poetic symmetry, Schulze died, like his belovèd Cäcilie, of consumption at the age of twenty-eight, a few days after receiving word that Die Bezauberte Rose had obtained the prize as the best poetic narration in F. A. Brockhaus' publication "Urania".
Settings by Schubert
It has been argued that Schubert was particularly drawn to Schulze's verse because his life was so akin to that of Schulze. The most apparent example of this is, perhaps, Im Frühling ('In Spring') (Op. 101, no. 1, D. 882) which represents the purest expression of love where the beloved is remote and unattainable.
Schubert planned to write an opera based upon Die Bezauberte Rose. His acquaintance, the young Austrian dramatist Eduard von Bauernfeld did not, however, think this would work on the stage. Consequently, Schulze's work was dropped by Schubert in preference for Der Graf von Gleichen from a collection of folk tales by Musäus, the work finally being left incomplete owing to Schubert's death.
- „Ich lebte ganz meinen Phantasien und war auf dem Wege, ein ganz unheilbarer Schwärmer zu werden“, quoted in Ernst Schulze. Nach seinen Tagebüchern und Briefen sowie nach Mittheilungen seiner Freunde geschildert, Marggraff, H. Vol. 5, Third edition, Leipzig 1855.
- Bibliographie der Werke Ernst Schulzes, Müller, H., Celler Chronik Vol. 1/1983, p. 84–111
- see also Müller, H., Bibliographie der Werke Ernst Schulzes
- „[…] in Cäcilien fand ich mich selbst, doch viel reiner, viel keuscher, viel schöner und herrlicher. Sie war Das, was ich vielleicht werden könnte, wenn es eine Unsterblichkeit gäbe, und wovon ich jetzt nur der Schatten bin.“, see Ernst Schulze. Nach seinen Tagebüchern und Briefen sowie nach Mittheilungen seiner Freunde geschildert, Marggraff, H., p 162.
- Reed, John (2006). Schubert Song Companion, The. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. p. 478. ISBN 1901341003.
- Magister Ernst Schulze – ein früh verstorbener Lieblingsdichter seines Jahrhunderts, Tütken, J. In: Privatdozenten im Schatten der Georgia Augusta, Part II. Göttingen 2005, p. 659–889 
- Observations on Schulze and Schubert's setting of Um Mitternacht, Classical Archives website
- The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website.
- Eisenlohr, U., Lieder nach norddeutschen Dichtern, Naxos, Deutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition 11, 2004, p.8
- Deutsch, O. E., Schubert - A Documentary Biography, Dent, 1946, p.653.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1900). "Schulze, Ernst". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Sämtliche poetische Werke edited by Bouterwek (third edition, with biography by Marggraff, Leipzig, 1855).