The baron of B.

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The Baron von B. is a short musical story by ETA Hoffmann that appeared in the sixth section of the third volume of the collection “ Die Serapionsbrüder ” in 1820 by G. Reimer in Berlin. The text was preprinted on March 10, 1819 in the " Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung ".

The three protagonists are known from a letter from the author to Friedrich Rochlitz . Behind the Baron as the royal Prussian Chamberlain Baron hides Karl Ernst von Bagge . The young violin virtuoso Carl is the later conductor Carl Moeser and his teacher Concertmeister Haak is Karl Friedrich Heinrich Haack .


In Berlin in 1789: Concertmaster Haak and his pupil Carl visit Baron von B. for good reason. The courteous host possesses, “as far as music for the violin is concerned, probably the most complete collection of compositions of all kinds, from the oldest to the most recent”

Although the Baron wants to listen to Carl's playing, he immediately says that with the violin he has chosen the heaviest instrument of all. The student Stamitz's fingers would only have been good for the viola and the viol d'Amor . So far so good. When Master Haak is now tuning his violin - you want to play a little of the new Haydn - the baron covers his ears and shouts: “Haak, Haak! - I ask you for God's sake, how can you spoil your whole game with your pathetic creaking, creaking straw fiddle! ”The master locks his Stradivarius in the box. The baron brings a Granuelo for it. However , the baron does not publish the corresponding sheet, which was already used by the immortal Tartini . Carl marveled at the excessive curvature of the bow, while the baron looked at this thing of bows with which one could shoot arrows and raved about two students who still had that certain Tartini line. One of them was Nardini in his younger years and the only surviving artist is the Baron himself. Baron von B. listens ecstatically to the game of Master Haak and interrupts him brusquely in the middle of a Haydnian adagio: "Stop! ... I beg you again ! ”When Haak repeated with a smile, the baron cried like a child.

Now Carl is allowed to speak. The baron then says that the student can stay with the violin, but needs a proper teacher.

The hospitality of the guests at the baron's table is excellent. Carl's master lets it taste good. Meanwhile, the baron spreads over Tartinian violin playing, which would have been started with Corelli and continued quite reasonably with Pugnani . In the succession, however, Gemianini's tempos are “without style and attitude”. The Schwebler and Schnörkler Giardini comes off badly. Opposite Lolli , who could not play an adagio, the young Viotti - the baron's most diligent student - could be called highly gifted. However, Viotti ran away. The baron is now hoping for cruisers . Giarnovichi should stay away from the baron's house. He blasphemed Tartini. But there is also the young, promising Rhode . The Baron von B. amazes Carl by posing as Haak's teacher. The master hits the baron's mark. How nice it would be if the baron also taught Carl. The baron replies that he would like to, but has no time at all.

There is still a time gap in the daily routine of the busy barons. The first lesson is quite surprising. When the Baron rebukes and plays Carl's game, Carl describes the teacher's game: "He slid up close to the bridge with his trembling bow, creaking, whistling, squeaking, meowing ..." Everything is half as bad. At the end of the lesson, Carl receives "a bare, beautifully rimmed, Dutch ducat" from the baron. Carl rushes to the master and reports. It turns out that when Haak takes "lessons" from Baron von B., he receives even more money than Carl.

Later, after a successful concert by Carl, the baron said: "The boy owes that to me, to me, the pupil of the great Tartini!"


The Serapion brother Cyprian (that is probably Adelbert von Chamisso ) tells because of the tension as if he were the young Carl.


  • Von Matt considers Hoffmann's narrative mechanisms, but does not want to be regarded as a Hoffmann interpreter. ETA Hoffmann talk about music theory. In addition, the genesis of the story can be traced.
  • The author could have portrayed the Königsberg music enthusiast Count Keyserling with the baron . He too could talk about music, but not be able to make music.
  • In his short story, the author moves from the gruesome to the cheerful. Concerning the artistic “production poverty” the text is a forerunner of “ Der arme Spielmann ”. Grillparzer was inspired by ETA Hoffmann. Kaiser is reminded of two successors penned by Balzac : “The Unknown Masterpiece” (“Le chef-d'oeuvre inconnu”, 1831) and “Gambara” (1837).
  • Details can be found at Segebrecht. ETA Hoffmann used an article from the “ Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung ” from September 16, 1801 , among other things. There is anecdotal in it. In the Paris house of the baron had performed privately: Todi , Mara , Jamsons, Punto , Ozy, Devienne and Besozzi . Despite all the ridiculousness, the “central motif” is based on the baron's understanding of art. That, in turn, was one of the prerequisites for promoting artists.


First edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • The Baron von B. In: The Serapionsbrüder. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. Third volume. Printed and published by G. Reimer, Berlin 1820.

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The Baron von B. In: Wulf Segebrecht (ed.): ETA Hoffmann: The Serapions Brothers. (DKV in the paperback vol. 28). Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-618-68028-4 , pp. 894-907. (corresponds to: Wulf Segebrecht (ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes. Volume 4, Frankfurt am Main 2001)

Secondary literature

  • Peter von Matt : The eyes of the machines. ETA Hoffmann's theory of imagination as a principle of his storytelling . Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1971, ISBN 3-484-18018-8 .
  • Rüdiger Safranski : ETA Hoffmann. The life of a skeptical fantasist. 2nd Edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-596-14301-2 . (Licensor: Hanser 1984)
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)


  1. ETA Hoffmann states “1789 or 1790”, but Carl says that he was “barely sixteen years old” at the time. Since he was born in 1774, 1789 appears likely.
  2. If one of the violin makers Graneiro is not referred to, it is an invention of ETA Hoffmann (Segebrecht, p. 1546, entry 898,31).

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1541, 7th Zvu
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1221, 7th Zvo and p. 1681, 1st Zvu
  3. Segebrecht, p. 1541, 9. Zvu
  4. Arrey von Dommer:  Bagge, Baron Karl Ernst von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, p. 765.
  5. Karl Möser
  6. ^ Segebrecht, pp. 1542–1543 and p. 1546, first entry
  7. Edition used, p. 895, 18. Zvo
  8. Edition used, p. 898, 13. Zvo
  9. Edition used, pp. 899, 37. Zvo
  10. Edition used, p. 904, 25. Zvo
  11. Edition used, p. 905, 15. Zvo
  12. Edition used, p. 906, 22. Zvo
  13. by Matt, p. 177, 6th Zvu
  14. by Matt, p. 7, 11. Zvu
  15. by Matt, p. 36, 1. Zvu
  16. Safranski, p. 48, 10. Zvo
  17. ^ Safranski, p. 239, 22. Zvo
  18. ^ Kaiser, p. 76, 16. Zvo
  19. ^ Kaiser, p. 170, 3rd Zvu
  20. Kaiser, p. 77, 18. Zvu
  21. Segebrecht, pp. 1541–1549.
  22. Segebrecht, p. 1544, 1. Zvo
  23. Segebrecht, p. 1544, 20. Zvo
  24. Segebrecht, p. 1545, 5. Zvo
  25. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above

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