The fight of the singers

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The fight of the singers is a story by ETA Hoffmann , which appeared in 1819 in the third section of the second volume of the collection " Die Serapionsbrüder " by G. Reimer in Berlin. After the author had completed the writing in March 1818, the text was published towards the end of the same year in the “Urania. Pocket book on the year 1819 ” preprinted by F. A. Brockhaus in Leipzig.

ETA Hoffmann was inspired by Johann Christoph Wagenseil's history mentioned below and the " Heinrich von Ofterdingen " of Novalis , but he writes his own singing war . A quarter of a century later, Wagner used the story, among other things, for his " Tannhäuser and the Singing War on Wartburg ". In 1925 Frida Loepp received her doctorate in Marburg on ETA Hoffmann's version.


The noble Countess Mathilde lives at the court of Landgrave Hermann von Thuringia . This is the very young widow of the blessed Count Cuno von Falkenstein. Around 1208, Walther von der Vogelweide , Reinmar von Zweter , Professor Heinrich Schreiber, Johannes Bitterolff, Heinrich von Ofterdingen and, from Switzerland, Wolfram von Eschenbach , came to court to sing a competition . Wolfram, who is loved by Mathilde, is considered the most experienced master. In Eisenach he pays a sick visit to his young friend Heinrich. Heinrich's mental illness manifests itself in physical pain, the cause of which is probably to be found in Heinrich's unhappy love for Mathilde. When he is feeling better again, he takes up the lute and climbs through the windy nocturnal forest towards the Wartburg . When Heinrich sings out his longing, the night wind subsides and the singer's notes are intertwined with the moonbeams. Then the wanderer meets a tall, sinister figure. This “bad guy” - meaning the devil - mocks him in an ugly tone, but shows him a way on which he can win Mathilde's love. The Negromant Klingsor , who lives in Transylvania , could teach him this art. Meanwhile, Wolfram von Eschenbach also falls in love with Mathilde. When Wolfram tries to shake hands with his angry friend Heinrich, he is gone.

When Heinrich, who was believed to be lost, returns, his new tone seems to easily gain Mathilde's favor. What is more, Mathilde takes lessons in singing and poetry from Heinrich. That is too much for Landgrave Hermann. He forbids her to write poetry. Thereupon Heinrich insults the Landgrave in his "insane songs". Hermann orders the singing war. Klingsor is to come and be the judge at the singing competition. One of the Landgrave's Mastersingers, the lot is to decide on his name, has to compete with Heinrich. The loser is to be judged immediately by the sword of the executioner Stempel from Eisenach.

Klingsor arrives within a year and reviles Wolfram with "disgraceful words". But one is reconciled. Klingsor recognizes the opponent's mastery and leaves. A new referee is appointed. Thousands of viewers experience how Wolfram becomes Heinrich's opponent through the lot. Wolfram wins the Singers' War. Heinrich evades the death penalty by vanishing into thin air. Mathilde can't help but fall in love with Wolfram again. "O my beloved," she says, "... It was your song, ... the song before which the evil one had to give way." Finally, Heinrich appears again physically - albeit far from Thuringia, at the court of Leopold the Seventh  - and is reconciled with Wolfram in a letter.


  • ETA Hoffmann takes care of the slapping of his work himself: After the Serapion brother Cyprian ( Adelbert von Chamisso ) has told the story, Theodor (ETA Hoffmann) immediately complains that the narrator "gave him the beautiful picture of Heinrich von Ofterdingen, who was deeply enthusiastic, as it emerged from the Novalis, thoroughly spoiled. ”Lothar ( Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué )“ praises ”that Cyprian has resisted the temptation to help up the weak material with“ metric crutches ”(verse).
  • Konrad Schwenck said in 1823 that a story in which the devil appeared personally could hardly transport the reader back to the Middle Ages.
  • Details can be found at Segebrecht. The text is not a black and white painting.
  • ETA Hoffmann does not want to cling to history in the text, which belongs to the "darker" ones.


The first edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • The fight of the singers in: The Serapionsbrüder. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. Second volume. Berlin 1819. With G. Reimer. 614 pages

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The fight of the singers. P. 332–382 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: The Serapions Brothers. German classic publisher in paperback. Vol. 28. Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-618-68028-4 (corresponds to: Vol. 4 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 2001)

Secondary literature

  • Book of Master-Singer Hold-Blessed Art. Johann Christoph Wagenseil , from: De civitate Noribergensi commentatio Altdorf 1697, edited by Horst Brunner, (= Litterae; 38), Göppingen 1975 ISBN 3-87452-290-3
  • 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 (1st edition 1984), ISBN 3-596-14301-2 .
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)
  • Gerhard Schulz : The German literature between the French Revolution and the restoration. Part 2. The Age of the Napoleonic Wars and the Restoration: 1806–1830. C. H. Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-09399-X .

Web links

online texts



  1. About the writing: ETA Hoffmann writes "Walther von der Vogelweid", "Reinhard von Zwekhstein" (for Zweter), "Wolfframb von Eschinbach" and has invented some characters; for example the Cuno von Falkenstein (Segebrecht, pp. 1367-1368). Cuno's widow Mathilde is an unmarried daughter at Novalis Klingsor's.

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht, p. 1221, 4. Zvo and p. 1681 middle
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1360 under "Origin and text transmission"
  3. Schulz, p. 441, 22. Zvo
  4. Peter Spahn : The Muse and the dust of files . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 1, 2001, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 67-72 ( ).
  5. Safranski, p. 399, 19. Zvo
  6. ^ Kaiser, p. 191, 17th Zvu
  7. ^ Kaiser, p. 83, 6th Zvu
  8. Edition used, pp. 337.20
  9. ^ Kaiser, p. 70, 13. Zvo
  10. Segebrecht, pp. 331, 33. Zvo
  11. Edition used, p. 382, ​​24. Zvo
  12. Edition used, p. 384, 3rd Zvo
  13. Schwenck, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1363, 13. Zvo and 14. Zvu
  14. Segebrecht, pp. 1360-1373
  15. Segebrecht, p. 1365, 6th Zvu
  16. quoted in Kaiser, p. 156, 16. Zvu
  17. by Matt, p. 170, 13th Zvu
  18. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above