Council Krespel

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Rat Krespel is a short story by ETA Hoffmann that Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué published in a women's pocketbook for 1818 with Johann Leonhard Schrag in Nuremberg under the title A letter from Hoffmann to Baron de la Motte Fouqué . In 1819 the text appeared in the first section of the first volume of the collection Die Serapionsbrüder at G. Reimer in Berlin. An act of the opera Hoffmann's Tales by Jacques Offenbach is based on the story .


The family of Johann Bernhard Crespel (1747-1813) from Frankfurt am Main protested against the representation of the council by ETA Hoffmann. Johann Bernhard Crespel was one of Goethe's childhood friends . Ms. Bergrat Buderus (the wife of Georg Buderus I ), Crespel's eldest daughter, told the author Maria Belli ( Leben in Frankfurt am Main , published 1850) that E. TA Hoffmann had received the "material" from Clemens Brentano .

According to Frank Haase, the Secret Postal Councilor Carl Philipp Heinrich Pistor should be seen as ETA Hoffmann's role model for Council Krespel. This inventive mechanic from Berlin dismantled an Amati - just for study purposes (see below).


Mr. Studiosus Theodor, alias ETA Hoffmann, says: "Krespel was famous as a learned, skilled lawyer and as a capable diplomat." He was a strange person. In the southern German city of H- Krespel had a house built in the Schildbürgerart style. The masons have to pull up the walls without doors or windows and break out those openings afterwards according to Krespel's instructions. When the first-person narrator Theodor visits the council in his new dwelling and asks about Antonie, Krespel directs the conversation to his new Amati, whom he has just cut open. For this purpose, the council uses its knowledge of the interior design of this violin to make the most beautiful violins. However, he only plays a finished instrument once and then takes it apart. One day Theodor is standing in front of the strange house with a group of residents from H-. You can enjoy Antonie's singing. The very young, beautiful girl is accompanied on the piano. You can hear Krespel screaming. A young man - apparently Antonie's groom - is thrown down the stairs and sobbing, drives off with the Postchaise. Theodor wants to find out what the relationship between the tyrannical magician Krespel is and the young girl.

When Theodor went on a trip to H- from B ** two years later, the council reported to him about Antonie's death, laughed and called out: “Heisa free! - Now I no longer make violins. ”Theodor understands the outbursts of pain as follows: Krespel lost his mind after Antonie's sudden death.

Theodor wants to convict the villain Krespel of the murder of Antonie. He doesn't succeed, but learns Krespel's story. Antonie was the daughter of the council; Child of the strange German's unhappy love for an Italian, the famous singer Angela -i from Venice. Krespel, who had moved to Italy, fled from Angela-i to southern Germany long before the child was born and stayed there. So he only learned by letter how Antonie blossomed at the side of her mother to become a singer of the first rank and fell in love with the hopeful young composer B .... The night before the intended wedding of the young bride and groom, Angela -i had died of complications from a cold.

Antonie's art, that is, her “sound that resounds beyond the sphere of human song”, is made possible by an organic breast disease. If red spots appear on Antonie's cheeks while singing, the soloist's life is in acute danger. Groom B ... knows this, but cannot resist the temptation. He accompanies the bride on the piano and, when those spots appear, he is thrown down the stairs by Krespel. For now, the father saved the daughter's life. Antonie complies. She doesn't want to sing anymore, but doesn't understand her father, who is cutting up the perfect violin (which he will later put in the coffin for his daughter).

Theodor reproduces Krespel's account of his daughter's death: “... one night the council felt as if he were listening to his pianoforte in the next room, and he soon made a clear distinction that B ... was preluding in the usual way . He wanted to get up, but it lay on him like a heavy load, as if bound with iron ties, he could not move or move. Now Antonie joined in softly breathed tones, which rose and fell into a thumping fortissimo, then the wonderful sounds turned into the deeply moving song, which B ... had once composed for Antonie in the pious style of the old masters. Krespel said that the state in which he found himself was incomprehensible, because a terrible fear was paired with joy that was never felt. Suddenly he was surrounded by a dazzling clarity, and in it he saw B ... and Antonien, hugging each other and looking at each other with blissful delight. The notes of the song and the accompanying pianoforte continued without Antonie visibly singing or B ... touching the fortepiano. The council now fell into a kind of dull swoon in which the image with the tones sank. When he awoke, that terrible fear from the dream remained. He jumped into Antonia's room. She lay on the sofa with closed eyes, with a gracious smile, her hands piously clasped, as if she were sleeping and dreaming of heavenly bliss and joy. But she was dead. "


  • In 1963 Meyer regarded Krespel as a “harmless eccentric” and Vitt-Maucher saw the title hero in 1972 on a tightrope walk between bourgeoisie and artistry.
  • In 1978 McGlathery spoke of incest between Krespel and Antonie. In 1993 Würker tried the suitability of the research instrument psychoanalysis. Wittkowski in 1978, Brandstetter in 1988 and Neymeyr in 2003 are looking for musical structures.
  • Schulz names a dictum that appears several times in the text, which Krespel fails because of: “Man is not God.” Kaiser considers the workings of motivic opposites - for example, construction versus destruction (house, violin, ...) and mentions works by Auhuber (1986 ), Brüggemann (1958), Cixous (1974), John M. Ellis (London 1974) and Peter von Matt (1971).
  • See Segebrecht and Keil for more details. The latter gives answers to such questions: why does Antonie not play an instrument when singing is fatal? Why doesn't Krespel sing? Why is the violin involved? Why is this instrument being taken apart? The answer is: The musician ETA Hoffmann is interested in the creation of the tone. Segebrecht also gives the following passages: Benno von Wiese (Düsseldorf 1962), J. Rippley La Verne (1971), Frank Haase and Carl Pistor (1985), Jean-Charles Margotton (Bern 1987), Brigitte Prutti (1992), Hubert Rüter (Paderborn 1997), Birgit Röder (2000) and Uwe Japp (Stuttgart 2004).


The first edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • Council Krespel in: The Serapion Brothers. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. First volume. Berlin 1819. With G. Reimer. 604 pp.

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: Council Krespel P. 39–71 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

  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann (= Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature). Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 .
  • Barbara Neymeyr : Musical Mysteries. Romantic dissolution of boundaries and prefiguration of decadence in ETA Hoffmann's “Rat Krespel”. In: ETA Hoffmann-Jahrbuch 11 (2003), pp. 73-103.
  • 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 .
  • Werner Keil : Council Krespel. In: Detlef Kremer (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann. Life - work - effect. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018382-5 , pp. 268-275.

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht, p. 1268, 3rd Zvu
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1221, 4. Zvo and p. 1681 above
  3. Segebrecht, p. 1276, from 5th Zvo
  4. quoted in Keil, p. 269 and p. 632: Frank Haase: Telekommunikation vs. romantic authorship in ETA Hoffmann's novella “Rat Krespel” in Kittler, Schneider, Weber: Medien . Opladen 1987, p. 55
  5. Segebrecht, p. 1277, from 1. Zvo
  6. Edition used, p. 63, 23. Zvo
  7. quoted in Keil, p. 269, 6. Zvo and p. 642: Hermann Meyer: Der Sonderling in der Deutschen Dichtung . Munich 1963
  8. quoted in Keil, p. 269, 4. Zvo and p. 654, Gisela Vitt-Maucher: “Rat Krespel” and God's dressing gown . Monthshefte 64 (1972), p. 51
  9. quoted in Keil, pp. 269, 14. Zvo and p. 641: James M. McGlathery: The sky hangs full of violins . The German Quarterly 51 (1978) p. 135
  10. quoted in Keil, p. 269, 15. Zvo and p. 656: Achim Würker: The fatality of wishes. Unconscious life plans in ETA Hoffmann's stories. Frankfurt am Main 1993
  11. quoted in Keil, p. 269, 19. Zvo and p. 655: Wolfgang Wittkowski: ETA Hoffmann's musical musician poems, Ritter Gluck , Don Juan, Council Krespel. Aurora 38 (1978) p. 54
  12. quoted in Keil, p. 270, 4. Zvo and p. 625: Rat Krespel , p. 15 in Gabriele Brandstetter (ed.): Jacques Offenbach'sHoffmanns Erzählungen ”. Conception. Reception. Documentation. Laaber 1988
  13. quoted in Keil, p. 269, 20. Zvo and p. 644: Barbara Neymeyr: Musikalische Mysterien. Romantic dissolution of boundaries and prefiguration of decadence in ETA Hoffmann's “Rat Krespel” . Hoffmann Yearbook 2003, p. 73
  14. Schulz, p. 435, 9th Zvu
  15. Schulz, p. 436, 19. Zvo
  16. ^ Kaiser, p. 66, 14th Zvu
  17. Kaiser, p. 82 under "Council Krespel"
  18. Segebrecht, pp. 1268-1287
  19. Keil, p. 270, 5th Zvu
  20. ^ Keil, p. 274, 13th Zvu
  21. Segebrecht, pp. 1281–1282 and p. 1666
  22. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above

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