Biography of Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776-1822)

Writer and German composer born in Königsberg in 1776 and died in Berlin in 1822, whose real name was Ernst Theodor Wilhelm, but changed the latter by Amadeus, due to the great admiration that felt by the Austrian composer Mozart.

Member of a family of Jurists, continued the family tradition and studied jurisprudence, who played in such cities as Posen, Plock and Warsaw. In 1806, after the entry of the French forces, he lost his job and had to devote to exercise as a music teacher and choirmaster, composer of theatrical assignments and scenarios for theatre artist, until in 1814 it got a new office in the Prussian administration. However, his liberal attitude, as well as the satire about the head of the Prussian police von Kamptz hidden in his narration Meister Floh (master flea) earned him in 1822 the confiscation of the manuscript and disciplinary proceedings. It died shortly after from serious ailments of the spine.

Its production is not limited exclusively to the literary and musical fields, but it also includes drawing and painting. As a music critic he was also a very commendable activity, that is the fact of being one of the first to recognize the genius of Beethoven as a musician. His literary work has made him one of the main representatives of German romanticism, influenced especially by Novalis and L. Tieck, philosophy of nature that took place at that time and, above all, by the horror novel. His interest in psychopathological phenomena led him to study various manifestations of insanity, through numerous psychiatric studies written by then. Dissatisfaction with everyday reality, with the philistine world, awoke in him the desire of a higher existence, whose only possibility there lies in the magic, in that other reality where hopes and dreams become a reality, and that moves in the depths of the subconscious. However, this other world has in his work a character is ambivalent, since in it the dreams become reality, but always with a menacing and demonic character. His genius lies, therefore, in the perfection of the contrast, as the tale becomes a reality in the daily life: the fantasy from reality is the subject of his literary work.

In 1809 published the narrative Ritter Glück (Knight Gluck), which followed between the years 1814 and 1822 the totality of his work: the collection of the Fantasiestücke in Callot completo de Manier (fantasy in the manner of Callot, 1814-1822 parts), which is the known tale Der goldene Topf (pot of gold), to which the own Hoffmann described as his most perfect work; the novel Die Elixiere des Teufels (the elixirs of the devil, 1815-1816); the collection of the Nachtstucke (night, 1816-1817), which are narrations as well known as Der Sandmann (the man of sand) or Das Majorat (mayorazgo); the collection Die Serapions-Brüder (the Serapion Brothers, 1819-1821); the novel, Lebensansichten des Katers Murr (opinions of the cat Murr, 1819-1821); the story of Maese flea (1822) and other many narrations.

Most of his texts were published for the first time in almanacs, and already had a very positive reception by readers and critics in the life of the author. The numerous editions of his works, as well as the translation of the same to a number of languages, are a reliable sign of its continuing popularity. Abroad has always been the most popular and the most widely read of the German Romantics, which is good try the opera in three acts composed by Jacques OffenbachFrench, based on his short stories (Les contes d'Hoffmann, the tales of Hoffmann, 1881).