The Birth of Tragedy is a young man's work, and shows the influence of many of the philosophers Nietzsche had been studying. His interest in classical Greece as in some respects a rational society can be attributed in some measure to the influence of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, although Nietzsche departed from Winckelmann in many ways. In addition, Nietzsche uses the term "naive" in exactly the sense used by Friedrich Schiller. More important influences include Hegel, whose concept of the dialectic underlies the tripartite division of art into the Apollonian, its Dionysian antithesis, and their synthesis in Greek tragedy. Of great importance are the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, especially The World as Will and Representation. The Apollonian experience bears great similarity to the experience of the world as "representation" in Schopenhauer's sense, and the experience of the Dionysian bears similarities to the identification with the world as "will." Nietzsche opposed Schopenhauer's Buddhistic negation of the will. He argued that life is worth living despite the enormous amount of cruelty and suffering that exists.
One year before the publication of ‘’The Birth of Tragedy’’, Nietzsche wrote a fragment titled On Music and Words. In it he asserted the Schopenhauerian judgment that music is a primary expression of the essence of everything. Secondarily derivative are lyrical poetry and drama, which represent mere phenomenal appearances of objects. In this way, tragedy is born from music.