German literature is an inseparable part of the culture of the country which can be traced back to the Middle Ages, with the most notable figures including Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Significant works of the period was the epic poem in High German language 'Nibelungenlied' (Song of the Nibelungs) and the 'Thidrekssaga' (Vilkina saga). The collections of fairy tales written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are world famous as well. The modern High German language originated from a translation of the bible into German by the theologian Martin Luther. Among the most famous German writers and poets are Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, Kleist, Hoffmann, Schmidt and Brecht. The Nobel Prize in Literature was won by the German writers Thomas Mann (1929), Hermman Hesse (1946), Heinrich Boll (1972) and Gunter Grass (1999).
Many notable German philosophers, such as Albertus Magnus, shaped Western philosophy as early as the Middle Ages. The 17th Century saw Leibniz and Kant significantly contribute to the development of philosophy. The works of Schopenhauer, as well as the German Idealism of Fichte and Hegel, were inspired by Kantianism. Communist theory was developed by Marx and Engels in the second half of the 19th Century, while Nietzsche, Heidegger and Gadamer were the most influential German thinkers of the 20th Century. Habermas, Horkheimer and Adorno were three central figures in the Frankfurt school of sociology, along with other such scientists as Simmel, Webber and Luhmann. Wilhelm von Humboldt founded the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1810, which served as a paramount model for Western universities.
Germany boasts some of the most world-renowned Classical music composers, such as Johan Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, who marked the transition between the Classical and Romantic ages in Western Classical music. Other German composers who have achieved international fame include Handel, Telemann, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Brahms, Schumann, Wagner, Strauss and Orff. In 2006, Germany became the world’s fifth largest music market, with also strong influence on the Rock and Pop music scene. Contemporary German music artists who enjoy international fame are Nena, Herbert Gronemeyer, Dieter Bohlen, Modern Talking, Rammstein and Kraftwerk.
During the Renaissance, many German painters contributed to the development of German art with such painters as Albrecht Altdorfer, Matthias Grünewald, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger and Albrecht Dürer. Baroque Art included the works of such major artists as Cosmas Damian Asam and Peter Paul Rubens. Further well-known artists include Caspar David Friedrich, the Conceptualist Joseph Beuys, the Surrealist Max Ernst and the Neo-expressionist Georg Baselitz. Germany is also known for its Carolingian- and Ottonian-style architecture, important precursors of the Romanesque style. The country also produced significant works in the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.