Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was a Prussian Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbachs famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann and he is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovskys ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumanns Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmanns character Johannes Kreisler. Hoffmanns stories highly influenced 19th century literature, and he is one of the authors of the Romantic movement. Hoffmanns ancestors, both maternal and paternal, were jurists and his father, Christoph Ludwig Hoffmann, was a barrister in Königsberg, Prussia, as well as a poet and amateur musician who played the viola da gamba. In 1767 he married his cousin, Lovisa Albertina Doerffer, ernst Theodor Wilhelm, born on 24 January 1776, was the youngest of three children, of whom the second died in infancy. The household, dominated by the uncle, was pietistic and uncongenial, Hoffmann was to regret his estrangement from his father. Nevertheless, he remembered his aunts with great affection, especially the younger, Charlotte, between 1781 and 1792 he attended the Lutheran school or Burgschule, where he made good progress in classics. He was taught drawing by one Saemann, and counterpoint by a Polish organist named Podbileski, ernst showed great talent for piano-playing, and busied himself with writing and drawing. He had however read Schiller, Goethe, Swift, Sterne, Rousseau and Jean Paul, and wrote part of a novel titled Der Geheimnisvolle. Around 1787 he became friends with Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel the Younger, the son of a pastor, and nephew of Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel the Elder, during 1792, both attended some of Kants lectures at the University of Königsberg. Their friendship, although tested by an increasing social difference, was to be lifelong. In 1794, Hoffmann became enamored of Cora Hatt, a woman to whom he had given music lessons. She was ten years older, and in 1795 gave birth to her sixth child, in February 1796, her family protested against his attentions and, with his hesitant consent, asked another of his uncles to arrange employment for him in Glogau, Prussian Silesia. From 1796 Hoffmann obtained employment as a clerk for his uncle, Johann Ludwig Doerffer, after passing further examinations he visited Dresden, where he was amazed by the paintings in the gallery, particularly those of Correggio and Raphael. During the summer of 1798 his uncle was promoted to a court in Berlin, and it was there that Hoffmann first attempted to promote himself as a composer, writing an operetta called Die Maske and sending a copy to Queen Luise of Prussia. The official reply advised to him to write to the director of the Royal Theatre, from June 1800 to 1803 he worked in Prussian provinces in the area of Greater Poland and Masovia. This was the first time he had lived without supervision by members of his family, and he started to become what school principals, parsons, uncles, and aunts call dissolute
Image: ETA Hoffmann 2
Hoffmann's portrait of Kapellmeister Kreisler
Grave of E. T. A. Hoffmann. Translated, the inscription reads: E. T. W. Hoffmann, born on 24 January 1776, in Königsberg, died on 25 June 1822, in Berlin, Councillor of the Court of Justice, excellent in his office, as a poet, as a musician, as a painter, dedicated by his friends.
Statue of "E. T. A. Hoffmann and his cat" in Bamberg