Kreisleriana (ETA Hoffmann)

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The Kreisleriana are twelve apparently incoherent, tragically arranged individual texts by ETA Hoffmann , which were first published between 1810 and 1814 in the Allgemeine Musical Zeitung and in the second and fourth volumes of Fantasiestücke in Callot 's manner in 1814 and 1815 . Steinecke contradicts the first reading impression of a ' Textverhaus ': “Their sequence [that of the individual pieces in the Kreisleriana ] is not accidental and as a whole they form a complete work.” Thus, the Kreisleriana is the author's first significant work with which he describes the I pointed out early romanticism into the modern age. Hoffmann's novel Life Views of the Kater Murr contains further fragments from Kreisler.

ETA Hoffmann: Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler in madness, pencil drawing (1822)

The Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler is considered to be the "artistic figure of Romanticism in general". His differences with the world result from a hopelessness: the artist's bond with the bourgeois public.


ETA Hoffmann has a Fraulein von B. publish the legacy of her dear master Johannes Kreisler, which is mainly written in letters. Kapellmeister Kreisler usually has his say in the papers. In the second Kreislerianum - entitled “Ombra adorata!” - he writes to his loyal friend, the traveling enthusiast, in the sixth “The Perfect Machinist” to the stage mechanic and to the decorator, in the seventh he replies to Baron Wallborn and in the twelfth He writes to Kreislerianum at his own address. Even an educated monkey can write to his friend Pipi in North America.

When reading the twelve Kreisleriana , only very few features catch the eye that could indicate the writer's madness mentioned in the text . Kreisler presents art views in a sensible or even satirical tone, chats about his youth and caricatures the educated citizen in an angry way. One thing is true, however. "The so-called intelligent world" - these are the narrow-minded, incomprehensible Philistines - Kreisler declare to be insane. Werner says: “Kreisler's madness results from his contact with a higher world in which the laws and behavioral norms of this world do not apply. In madness, an increased being opens up to the artist; the insane musician stands in closer relation to the world spirit and eludes the cramped conditions. ”Another point of view had to be considered. ETA Hoffmann, suspicious of the Enlightenment that came down from the 18th century , was interested in eccentrics like Kreisler. In this context, two art views by ETA Hoffmann do not appear to be compatible at first glance. On the one hand, the artist must go through madness, but on the other hand he needs calm and serenity. Nipperdey has a doctorate on Hoffmann's realm of madness. Werner quotes from Nipperdey's dissertation on the poet's glimpses “into the depths of the human soul”: “Abnormalities and insanity are not external illnesses, let alone somatic diseases, but rather special mental developments that arise from the peculiarities of the psyche and from the fate of life. ”Safranski also commented on the causes of Kreisler's madness.

If the twelve pieces are read as the prelude to the departure of Kapellmeister Kreisler from the provincial town, the reader will find some clues. So the protagonist says at the end of the piece "Kreisler's musical-poetischer Clubb": "But I have to leave soon in some way." And the narrator explains: "It soon happened as he said."


part One

Kreisler left and has been considered lost ever since. Most recently, the friends were amazed at his behavior - for example, the nightly composing in the most exalted mood and the burning of the wonderful composition the next day. When Kreisler hopped out through the town gate, singing merrily, with two hats on top of each other and rastrals in his belt, he was seen.

1. Johannes Kreisler's, the conductor's musical woes

Kreisler writes that he has already been in the city for five years and that four and a half of those years have been music teacher for the two completely unmusical daughters Marie and Nanette of the wealthy secret councilor Röderlein. Kreisler describes an evening party in the Röderlein house. The older guests stay away from the musical performances and play cards next door. What wonder - Marie and Nanette dress up and then come on. Kreisler has to fantasize on the wing. He would much rather complete his new piano sonata at home. But the grim Kreisler drives one brave listener after the other to the gaming table with his Bach variations. Kreisler chats that Röderlein's niece, the talented Fraulein Amalie, tie him to this house. However, Amalie does not appear in front of the artificial bastards in this tea party. The servant Gottlieb, a 16-year-old boy with a deep sense of art, also has what it takes to become a brave artist. Artists, Kreisler observes, always emerge from the poorer class.

2. Ombra adorata!

Change of scene. Kreisler enters the concert hall and accompanies the bell-clear voice of a woman to the aria "Ombra adorata" on the piano. Thus he can rise again "above the shame of the earthly" - more precisely, above the mob's disgusting scorn. Before that, Kreisler could have crawled into the furthest corner of the hall. A loyal friend had heard what he said was a “short, insignificant overture”. Demanding music - so Kreisler - must stimulate the listener wonderfully and comfortably and largely suppress thought.

3. Thoughts on the great value of music

Kreisler thinks that the artist just wants to entertain the audience in a pleasant way and understands a successful composition to be a pleasant sequence of melodies “that keeps itself in place ... without raving”. Music, the mysterious Sanskrit of nature spoken in tones, must fill people with longing. Once that is achieved, the listener can suddenly hear the song of trees, flowers, animals, stones and water.

4. Beethoven's instrumental music

The mighty genius Bach and also Haydn , Mozart and Beethoven are Kreisler's great minds. While Haydn's compositions are “an expression of a child's serenity”, Beethoven's serious and solemn music “comes from an unknown country” into our cramped world. Beethoven, also a genius and for Kreisler the magician and master, forced the wonders of this world into his work and even more. Beethoven leads the listener "into the distant spirit realm of sounds".

5. Highly distracted thoughts

Flashback to early youth: Kreisler kept a secret diary with distracted thoughts. After the cousin got his hands on it and scribbled it, Johannes burns his little book.

Kreisler's utterances mostly concern processes in the composer. He illustrates this with his great role models with “anecdotes”. Mozart, for example, made fun of his friends who worried about the premiere of " Don Juan ". The overture was just finished at the latest possible date. The friends probably didn't know - an opera is completely composed in the composer's mind before he writes down the first stave.

And Kreisler shares another anecdote: Rameau on his deathbed. The priest presses more and more verbatim for Christian contemplation. The dying composer disapproves of such a suggestion. How could the clergyman sing so wrongly. Rameau had already knocked on the gates of heaven and was already sinking into the pure harmonies up there, where every word that came up is rejected as a croak.

6. The perfect machinist

Kreisler, at home in the world of opera, goes behind the scenes, climbs the Schnürboden and worries about spectator fears that might arise later during the performance: “The cloud car or cloud must therefore hang in four rather thick, black-painted ropes and be pulled up or down in jerks at the slowest speed. "

Part II

1. Letter from Baron Wallborn to Kapellmeister Kreisler

The aforementioned Miss von B. was so friendly. It allowed the baron to look into some of Kreisler's papers. Wallborn can reflect: Kreisler judges the ingenious music-making too harshly. The tolerant Wallborn prefers the worst sound - that is, the "piano strumming and singing" - than silence. This baron (the letter comes from the pen of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué ), who signs his letter with "The lonely Wallborn", which people call "great", is already happy about "a little angelic harmony".

2. Letter from Kapellmeister Kreisler to Baron Wallborn

Kreisler frankly portrays the great baron about the ghost that a droll had driven him. On the occasion Kreisler wore a dress in Cismoll with an edur- colored collar. Kreisler had become angry and mad "about the music of the rabble". Then the own notes jumped up like little black, heavily tailed devils. Now he's leaving tomorrow. He's already put on new boots.

3. Kreisler's musical-poetic club

It's going to be high. The Freijäger concertmaster throws Kreisler light scissors into the strings. The bandmaster has to withstand the madness, that is the ghost with the straw crown on the bald head. That evening the Joviale wore from his manuscript “Princess Blandina. A romantic game in three acts ”. In addition to Kreisler, listeners are the traveling enthusiast, the deliberate, the discontented and the indifferent. Although the dissatisfied find the piece flat, the Joviale keeps a good mood.

4. Message from an educated young man

ETA Hoffmann calls this Kreislerianum a "humorous essay". In the house of the secret Commerce Councilor R., the monkey Milo - taken straight from the tree - was taught to speak, read and write by a professor of aesthetics. On the whole, Monsieur Milo, properly dressed, can move around society. Small slip-ups do happen. The monkey occasionally scratches a lady kissing her hand or he can not control himself during supper and throws an apple into the wig of the host . Kreisler brings a letter from Milos to the monkey Pipi. Milo reports to America that thanks to his elongated fingers he can grasp two octaves on the fortepiano . He also needs that. The forest animal is working on his first opera.

5. The music enemy

Kreisler tells from childhood. At home, the father led the regiment. Every listener had to endure the interpretations of consistently long pieces by this music lover until the end. The father didn't believe in little John's musicality until he allowed him to take lessons on the piano. After intensive practice, Johannes then performed a piece in E major to the delight of his father . A guest in the audience remarked in F major . The embarrassed father struck. Johannes ran away screaming. From then on, the boy was scolded as a “music enemy”.

6. About a saying by Sachini, and about the so-called effect in music

In this music-theoretical treatise on church music and opera, Kreisler speaks out against a fad - overloaded instrumentation and bizarre, unmotivated modulation . In doing so, he relies on a remark made by Sachini to le Brün . In church music - that supernatural language of heaven - such modulations are out of place. For the listener wants to leave the earthly behind, which contains the fermentation substance of evil. So the modulation is to be referred to the opera. Kreisler admonishes the novice opera composer: There are far more important things in opera than modulation. First and foremost is the melody. Only a tone poem that emerges truly and powerfully from within the composer can reach the interior of the listener.

7. Johannes Kreisler's teaching letter

The origin of the melody inside the composer is difficult to describe in words. It's about understanding the secret music of nature. In this poetological conversation Kreisler also expresses himself about some of the early stages of his career as a musician and then says to himself: "It is not an empty picture, not an allegory when the musician says that colors, scents, rays appear to him as sounds"


Contemporaries say:

  • After the publication of the first part, the text was praised in the Wiener and Leipziger Literatur-Zeitung as well as in the Heidelberg Yearbooks. The criticism of the art business of the time is noticed. ETA Hoffmann is suspected behind Kreisler - still hesitantly. After the publication of the second part, criticism (for Kreisler's Clubb) joins the review of the Wiener Literatur-Zeitung. The Kreisler figure, behind which the author can now be seen, gradually makes the text interesting.
  • The "Princess Blandina" goes unnoticed. Brentano alone praised the drama in 1816. He said that he “liked a lot”, but not the “principle of the destruction of illusions”.

Recent comments:

  • Steinecke sees Kafka's Rotpeter as a worthy descendant of the monkey Milo.
  • The first Kreislerianum "Johannes Kreisler's, the Kapellmeister's musical woes" contains autobiographical references to ETA Hoffmann's time in Bamberg. Werner registers the dependence of the musician Kreisler on the bourgeoisie and even speaks of Kreisler's struggle for life and death against those citizens. The value of genius is not recognized by the art-loving citizen who gazes at him blankly. Kreisler is at most tolerated. ETA Hoffmann wanted to "tell what he suffered" and hide behind the Kreisler he invented.
  • ETA Hoffmann valued Diderot'sJakob, the Fatalist ”. The entry into both works is comparable: “Where is it from? - Nobody knows! - Who were his parents? - it is unknown! - Whose student is he? "
  • Details can be found at Steinecke. He also mentions works by Susanne Asche (Königstein / Taunus 1985), Hanne Castein (Stuttgart 1983), Raphaël Célis (Brussels 1982), Carl Dahlhaus (1981), Klaus-Dieter Dobat (Tübingen 1984, p. 155), Bernhard J. Dotzler (1986), Helmut Feldmann (Cologne 1971), Horst-Jürgen Gerigk ( Hürtgenwald 1989), Lutz Hermann Görgens (Tübingen 1985), Walter Jost (Frankfurt am Main 1921), Jocelyne Kolb (1977), Sigrid Oehler-Klein (Stuttgart 1990), Patrick Thewalt (Frankfurt am Main 1990), Wolfgang Wittkowski (Berlin 1984), Günter Wöllner (Bern 1971) and one of his own work (Heidelberg 2002). Kaiser also refers to the work of Claudio Magris (Milan 1984) and Steven Paul Scher (ed. Of "Literatur und Musik", Berlin 1984, p. 300).

Media adaptation


First prints

  • I, 1. Johannes Kreisler's, the Kapellmeister, musical suffering , in: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung , 12th vol., No. 52, 26th September 1810, col. 825–833, anonymous.
  • I, 3. Thoughts on the high value of music , in: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung, 14th vol., No. 31, July 29th 1812, Col. 503–509, anonymous.
  • I, 4th Beethoven's instrumental music , adaptation of two essays from: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung, 12th year, 1810, nos. 40 + 41, Beethoven op.67 C minor symphony , and 15th year, 1813, no. 9, Beethoven op. 70 Two trios ; the present version first in: Zeitung for the elegant world , 13th year, No. 245-47, 9-11. December 1813, anonymous.
  • I, 5. Highly distracted thoughts , in: Newspaper for the elegant world, 14th vol., No. 2-5, 4-8. January 1814, signed: by Kapellmeister J. Kreisler.
  • II, 2nd letter from Kapellmeister Kreisler to Baron Wallborn , in: Die Musen , 1814, third and last piece, pp. 272–293
  • II, 4. Message from an educated young man , in: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung, 16 vol., No. 11, March 16, 1814, Col. 178–187, drawn: from the papers of the conductor, Johannes Kreisler.
  • II, 5. Der Musikfeind , in: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung, 16 vol., No. 22, June 1, 1814, Col. 367–373, anonymous.
  • II, 6. About a saying by Sacchini, and about the so-called effect in music , in: Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung, 16. Vol., No. 29, July 20, 1814, Col. 477-485, anonymous.
  • II, 7. Johannes Kreisler's letter of apprenticeship , first version under the title Ahnungen aus dem Reich der Töne , in: Morgenblatt für educated estates , 10th year, No. 45-46, 21 + 22. February 1816, pp. 177–178 + 182-183, drawn: Hff (was delivered in 1814).

First edition

  • Kreisleriana. Nro. 1-6 . P. 47–196 in: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner. Sheets from the diary of a traveling enthusiast. With a preface by Jean Paul. <First volume>. 240 pages. CF Kunz's new reading institute, Bamberg 1814
  • Kreisleriana . Pp. 105–389 in: ETA Hoffmann: Fantasy pieces in Callot's manner. Fourth and last volume. 389 pages. CF Kunz, Bamberg 1815

Last hand edition

  • Revised by Hoffmann, in: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner, Second, revised edition in two parts , First Part, pp. 29–116 and Second Part, pp. 285–371, Bamberg 1819 from CF Kunz.

Further editions

  • ETA Hoffmann: Fantasy pieces in Callot's manner . 3rd edition, Brockhaus, Leipzig 1825, [changed orthography]
  • ETA Hoffmann's complete works in 15 volumes. Edited by Eduard Grisebach, Hesse, Leipzig 1900, Volume 1: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner
  • The Kreislerbuch - texts, compositions and pictures . Published by Hans von Müller, Insel, Leipzig 1903
  • ETA Hoffmann's Complete Works. Historical-critical edition with introductions, comments and readings by Carl Georg von Maassen (1880–1940). Munich and Leipzig 1908–1928, Georg Müller [modernized orthography] Volume 1, 1908. Fantasy pieces in Callot's manner
  • ETA Hoffmann: Kreisleriana. P. 32–82 and P. 360–455 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Fantasiestücke in Callot's manner. Works 1814. German classic publishing house in paperback. Vol. 14. Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-618-68014-7 (corresponds to: Vol. 2/1 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 1993).

Secondary literature

  • Hans-Georg Werner: ETA Hoffmann. Representation and interpretation of reality in poetic work . Arion Verlag, Weimar 1962.
  • 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)
  • Helmut de Boor , Richard Newald: History of German literature from the beginnings to the present. Volume 7: Gerhard Schulz : The German literature between the French Revolution and the Restoration. Part 2: The Age of Napoleonic Wars and Restoration. 1806-1830. Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-09399-X .


  1. Kaiser describes the confusion as an "extensive renunciation of a narrative continuum" (Kaiser, p. 35, 8th Zvo) and believes that the "heterogeneity of the forms" also makes "the inner unity" of the pieces in the second part stand out ( Kaiser, p. 40, 18. Zvu).
  2. The mad Baron Wallborn is a character from Fouqué's novella “Ixion” (edition used, p. 360, 13. Zvo).
  3. Kreisler gets into raptures every now and then. For example, when he indulges in Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, he becomes pathetic in places. (Steinecke, p. 638, 9th Zvu).
  4. During the premiere of Zingarelli's opera “Romeo and Juliet” (Italian: Giulietta e Romeo ) on January 30, 1796 at La Scala in Milan , Girolamo Crescentini was allowed to sing his self-composed aria “Ombra adorata!”. (Steinecke, p. 658, 11th Zvu)
  5. Steinecke disqualifies - with regard to this piece - Kreisler's remarks about music as banausisch. (Steinecke, p. 660, 8. Zvu)
  6. According to Thalberg's autograph collection, the composer and interpreter Ludwig Böhner could perhaps also be taken as ETA Hoffmann's role model for the Kapellmeister Kreisler ( Biographical Lexicon of the Kaiserthums Oesterreich: Thalberg, _Sigismund VII. Thalberg's autograph collection ).

Individual evidence

  1. Werner, p. 155, 13. Zvu
  2. Steinecke, p. 637, 10th Zvu
  3. Steinecke in the edition used, p. 553, p. 626–627 and p. 812–813
  4. Steinecke, p. 636, 3rd Zvu
  5. Steinecke, p. 640, 9.-20. Zvo
  6. Steinecke, p. 632, 8. Zvo
  7. Werner, p. 71, 12. Zvo, p. 113, 5. Zvo and p. 139, 19. Zvu
  8. Steinecke, p. 638, 9. Zvo
  9. by Matt, p. 25, 6. Zvo
  10. Steinecke, p. 635, 12th Zvu
  11. Edition used, p. 362, 9. Zvo
  12. Werner, p. 128, 6. Zvo
  13. Werner, p. 64, 12. Zvu
  14. Werner, p. 65, 6. Zvo
  15. Werner, p. 66, 1. Zvo, Schulz, p. 426, 1. Zvo
  16. Otto Nipperdey : "Wahnsinnsfiguren bei ETA Hoffmann" Phil. Diss. Uni Köln 1957, p. 13 (quoted in Werner, p. 247, 3rd entry vu and p. 209, footnote 38)
  17. Werner, p. 155, 12. Zvu
  18. ^ Nipperdey, quoted in Werner, p. 62, 3. Zvo
  19. Safranski, p. 238, 14. Zvo and p. 243, 8. Zvo
  20. Edition used, p. 418, 12. Zvo
  21. Safranski, p. 48, 10th Zvu
  22. Edition used, p. 79, 26. Zvo
  23. ETA Hoffmann, quoted in Steinecke, p. 835, 16. Zvu
  24. Steinecke, p. 630, 17. Zvo
  25. Edition used, p. 453, 25. Zvo
  26. Steinecke, pp. 628–629
  27. Steinecke, p. 814, 11. Zvo
  28. Steinecke, p. 815, 10th Zvu
  29. Clemens Brentano, quoted in Steinecke, p. 826, 13. Zvu
  30. Steinecke, p. 828, 3rd Zvu
  31. Steinecke, p. 816, 1. Zvo
  32. Steinecke, p. 631, 7. Zvo
  33. Werner, p. 143, 11. Zvu and p. 55, 18. Zvo and 17. Zvu
  34. Safranski, p. 228, 1st Zvu
  35. Schulz, p. 425, 5. 425, 5. Zvu
  36. Edition used, p. 32, 4. Zvo
  37. Steinecke, pp. 626–673 and pp. 812–858
  38. Steinecke, pp. 921–922, p. 929 and p. 916
  39. ^ Kaiser, p. 42 under "Kreisleriana" I and II
  40. ^ Kaiser p. 40, 13th Zvu

Web links

Wikisource: Kreisleriana (First Part)  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Kreisleriana (Second Part)  - Sources and full texts