Tag Archives: E.T.A. Hoffmann

Music To Die For

The Cremona Violin  by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1818)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 6, 2017


Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann popularly known as E.T.A. Hoffmann, was a Romantic author of Gothic, weird and fantasy fiction. He believed that music could ‘bring us into unknown kingdoms.’ He would, of course, think this since he was a composer of music. But more to the point this writer loved the supernatural, sinister characters, and the grotesque elements in human nature. His fiction is astonishing with wild leaps of imagination paralleled with psychology and spectres of the macabre.


I began reading Hoffmann’s fiction while researching my novel Greylock. Because Greylock deals with the power of supernatural music in the life of my character Alexei Georg, a composer, I wanted to know more about Hoffmann’s creative fiction, and how he built his characters and stories around musical themes. And his stories did not disappoint.



Hoffmann’s short story The Cremona Violin features a violinist named Councillor Krespel, who decides to build a rather unconventional house with misplaced windows and doors. By trade, Krespel obsessively rebuilds antique violins and searches the world for the violins of the old master violinists. Living with Krespel is a young woman, Antonia, a singer who has the beauty and voice of an angel. Our story’s narrator, a lawyer, describes Antonia as “impossible to tear myself away from her blue eyes, her sweet rosy lips, her uncommonly graceful, lovely form…”  Krespel is obsessed with Antonia and compulsively forbids her to sing.  Here the mystery gets thick with the bizarre.










Read The Cremona Violin at Ebooks.Adelaide.edu.

Listen to the audio by Librivox.org/weird-tales

Hoffmann’s novels are The Devil’s Elixirs, the King’s Bride, The Nutcracker. Short stories The Sandman, The Entail, The Deserted House, and others.


Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.


 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/


Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, tales of terror, weird tales

Dark Magic of Music

Music parallels the occult.

Can the notes we hear lead us into a dark abyss? Composer and music critic E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1882, known as “Ghost Hoffmann”) recognized the mysterious forces in music.  You might remember his name from his opera The Nutcracker. Hoffmann believed that music can “open to man an unknown realm.”  In his famous essay “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music” Hoffmann writes that while Mozart’s music evokes the super-human, Beethoven’s music brings us into the unfathomable … “we see gigantic shadows swaying back and forth” and become “seers of the realm of spirits.”  Nietzsche advises us to listen to music with our muscles. If we did, would we experience these musical shadows? Would we enter a realm of spirits?

Alexei Georg, pianist and composer, listens to music with not only his muscles but with the deepest elements of his mind and soul. What does he discover when he plays a forgotten sonata he found inside an old Russian sea chest? This sheet music carries with it, in Hoffmann’s words, “mists of fear, of horror, of terror.” And I promise you, the darkest of shadows.

Alexei Georg is a young man living in Boston and about to journey into the dark magic of music.


Supernatural thriller … soon … when the leaves fall.



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Filed under fiction, horror blogs, occult, paranormal, phantoms, supernatural, suspense

The Mysterious Window

The Deserted House  by  E.T.A. Hoffmann (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 31, 2015



The subject of this story is the mysterious. Are facts more mysterious than the imagination? Or is the power of the imagination the reality?

Our narrator Theodore is a clairvoyant. Or so his friends believe. Theodore tells of an adventure with the mysterious. Imagine you are walking in old Germany on an avenue lined with aristocratic homes and fashionable shops. Tucked among the rich and gay architectures is a deserted old house. Theodore becomes entranced by this closed up and unoccupied home. He wonders what may be hidden within it. One day, in the upper window he sees the hand of a young woman. Later he hears her mad laughs and scratchy old voice.



Fatal magic. A haunted mirror. A gypsy woman in a red shawl. This is a wonderfully creepy story with counts and countesses, betrayals, and of course, the mysterious.




I discovered author E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) when I was researching occult music for my current WIP novel Greylock. Hoffmann is most popularly known as a composer, but he’s written novels and over fifty short stories in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. His tales are full of magic, occult powers of the subconscious, and psychology. He writes in a rich narrative style that carries vintage storytelling atmospherics. Many know his name as the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet.





Read the short story online at  UNZ.org  at German Mysteries, From The Lock and Key Library by Julian Hawthorne.


Listen to the audio at Librivox,  Parts 1 and 2 on Youtube.


Another Hoffman favorite short is The Sandman, featured here at Tales of Terror on  July 9, 2013.



Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.


Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, occult, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror

On the Dark Side of the Moon, The Sandman

The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann  (1817)

Tuesday’s Tale of  Terror  July 9, 2013


A 200-year old story. German Romantic Literature. Fantasy. Horror. Alchemy. Madness. And a hint of Frankensteinian fiction. Are you game for this one?

Some of you may know this author from The Nutcracker & the King of Mice, which was adapted into the famous ballet by Tchaikovsky or his novel The Devil’s Elixir. Hoffman is famous for his supernatural tales with the most sinister characters and The Sandman, with its dramatic but very realistic narrative style lives up to that reputation.

Did your mom ever tell you the story of The Sandman? A fairy-type image of a good soul who sprinkles sand over your eyelids while you slept so you stay asleep? Well, this sandman by Hoffman is nothing like that.

The sandman comes to children who won’t go to sleep and “throws handfuls of sand in their eyes until, streaming with blood, they pop out of their heads. Then he throws the eyes in a sack and carries them off to the dark of the moon to feed his little ones with; they sit there in a nest with their hooked beaks, like owls’, with which they peck away at the naughty human children’s eyes.”

Try that for a bedtime story.

Our character, Nathanael, poor dear sweet Nathanael is told this bedtime story by his wicked nurse. Take this tale, add to it a fevered imagination, a father who dabbles in alchemy, a visitor named Coppelius with repulsive sneering lips, red ears, and dark glittering eyes who hates children (“the little beasties”) and watch it launch into a horror story that blurs the lines between phantasm and madness.

Symbolically, Freud wrote that The Sandman was about fear of castration. There might be a psychopathology going on here, especially when Nathanael grows up and falls in love with a strange stiff-backed woman named Olympia who is kept behind a locked glass door by her father. And there’s Klara, the beautiful and smart young maiden who truly loves Nathanael with her whole heart … but can Klara save our Nathanael from his phantoms? Will he let her?

Read the full text at The University of Adelaide Library


Leave a comment. Tell us about your  childhood scariest bedtime stories. Do they compare to Hoffmann’s The Sandman?


Hoffmann portrait

Art is by Paul Gavarni



Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, horror, literature, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales