Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen


Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen (also Bernd, Berndt, 11 December 1703 – 17 January 1789) was the possible author of the popular song Tiiu, tasane and helde (‘Tiiu, Quiet and Gentle’).

He belonged to the big and famous Baltic German family of Tiesenhausens who had arrived from Germany in the areas of present Estonia and Latvia in the early 13th century with the first Crusaders. Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen was born in Lower Saxony and died in Tallinn. His father, Major General Hans Heinrich von Tiesenhausen, had received the baron’s title from Queen Kristina of Sweden in 1654, and he owned several manors in Estonia.

Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen also chose the military career. In service, he reached the rank of Captain. In 1741–1744 and 1772–1774, he was head of the Estonian Knighthood. Later, he was a chief executive of Estonia and Active State Councillor. He owned numerous manors in the Governorate of Estonia. In 1759, Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen became a Count of the Russian Empire.

Berend Heinrich von Tiesenhausen is generally considered the author of the Estonian-language poem Minno römo olli Rosi (‘My Joy was Roosi’). The poem appeared in the second issue of the magazine Der teutsche Merkur in 1788. The poem is also known by the words of the first verse Tiiu, tasane ja helde (‘Tiiu, Quiet and Gentle’) and also under the title Tiiu. Later, the poem appeared in German translation in several collections. The poem has also been translated into Russian, it has been set to music by several composers, and it has become a popular choral song.  According to the literary scholar Jaan Roos, however, the author of the song is not Tiesenhausen but an anonymous “lady from Estonia” and it appeared in a book of sheet music printed in Leipzig in 1784 (Jaan Roos, journal Eesti Kirjandus, no 4, 1939).

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)