Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann


Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann : biography

24 January 1776 – 25 June 1822

An unhappy event happened in the year when he got married: during the city masquerade caricatures on influential people, which venomously represented them, were spreading all over the city. It had been funny till these influential people saw them. They sent information to Berlin, and it was found out, that a group of young official were spreading them, and a talented artist, who had painted these caricatures, was Ernst Hoffmann. His career made a sudden zigzag – instead of promotion and transferring to Berlin he was sent to Plock. But he was promoted, and Hoffmann became a governmental councilor, though his Candidate degree, which he had got recently, was cancelled.

Plock was more provincial than Poznan, and the official was occupied with small thieves, peasants’ complaints and reports about town’s events. His salary was also small, and Hoffmann often borrowed money from von Gippel, who became a baron. There wasn’t ay theatres and bohemia, and his wife saved him from the next depression. It was intolerably boring, and the future writer poured out his grief in the diary. His double life continued: during days he fulfilled his duties anв at night he created music. He was a creator and official at the same time – according to the medicine, it was the first symptom of schizophrenia or… genius.

In 1803 at the first time he showed himself as a writer: the capital “Independent” newspaper published Hoffmann’s essay “The letter of a monk to the capital friend”. Successful publications of musical critics were also published, and he even took the second place in some literary contest. At the end of the year aunt Johanna died, and Ernst got a small fortune. He went to Konigsberg, every day attended theatres, and in February of 1804 left the Derffer’s house, which became too cheerless. Hoffmann never returned in the city of his childhood after that.

A month later he was sent to Warsaw to take a position of a governmental councilor in a Prussian supreme court. Hoffmann’s boredom and melancholy subsided – not only because of the Polish capital’s cultural life, but also because of new friends, especially an assessor Julius Eduard Gitzig. Owing to Gitzig Ernst was absorbed in the world of German romantic literature. In April of 1805 there was a premiere of Hoffmann’s new singspiel in Warsaw, and the name “Wilhelm” was changed to “Amadeus” on the title page for the first time – in honour of the great Mozart, who was literally idolized by Hoffmann. At the same time Ernst composed a symphony mi major, the only in his art, and a sonata la major for piano. He conducted the orchestra in Warsw, as acknowledged as a composer and took part in performances of vocal parts – in addition to other talents Hoffmann had a sonorous tenor.

In spring Hoffmann became one of the founders of “Musical meeting” – a society, which was situated in a Malta palace. Hoffmann decorated some rooms of the palace with his own paintings. And in summer Michalina gave birth to a daughter Cecilia, who was mande after the saint, patronizing music. In short, Hoffmann practically found himself in Warsaw – his singspiels were performed, his piano sonata was published, he conducted on premieres, projected scene decorations and thought about leaving hated law for music. But his work was also excellent – an acceptable salary, praising references.

But long happiness is very rare. At the end of autumn in 1806 Warsaw was occupied by Napoleon’s army, and Prussian official had a clear choice: to make an oath to France or to be departed form Warsaw immediately. The majority chose to be faithful to the motherland, but it didn’t bring them gladness. Hoffmann also didn’t sign up the oath. Though he didn’t get a strict order to leave the city, he lost his apartment, and the family settled in the attic of the Malta palace. In January Ernst sent his wife and daughter to Poznan, to Michalina’s parents, but he didn’t receive a passport to move to Vienna.