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Creative Synaesthesia in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Ritter Gluck

  • Val Scullion (a1) and Marion Treby (a2)
Abstract

Strong evidence in the field of neuroscience now makes it possible to claim, with minimal reservation, that E. T. A. Hoffmann’s literary imagination was enriched by synaesthesia. E. T. A. Hoffmann is recognised as a remarkable polymath. A writer of fiction, bibliophile, composer and music critic, he not only understood Romantic sensibility but also involved himself in contemporary scientific debates on the nature of sound and perception, and was familiar with the acoustic theories of Ritter and Schubert’s work on magnetism and electrical energy. Hoffmann’s distinctive creativity was formed and informed by his diverse abilities and interests, and by his auditory sensibility and kinaesthetic appreciation of music. We postulate that the multi-sensory nature of Hoffmann’s work is evidence of creative synaesthesia, a phenomenon that occurs when a neurophysiological sensation perceived in the brain stimulates a different sense or senses and, as a result, produces a creative outcome. Taking as our example his intensely musical story Ritter Gluck, published in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of February 1809, we examine Hoffmann’s complex and idiosyncratic use of metaphor and structure in the scientific context of his own time and continent, and in the context of 21st century scientific understandings of brain science.

We are a sensorium commune, sensuous beings who perceive through many diverse senses at once.1

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1.Herder, J. G. (1985) Abhandlungen über den Ursprung Der Sprache. In: Frühe Schriften 1764-1772, Band 1 (Frankfurt: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag), p. 1312. His endnotes define the sensorium commune as ‘the organ of total sensory receptivity, ‘sensory perception within’ (Totalorgan sinnlicher Empfänglichkeit, ‘innerer Sinn’)’.
2.Baron-Cohen, S. and Harrison, J. (1996) Synaesthesia: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 1316.
3.Cytowic, R. E. (2002) Touching tastes, seeing smells – and shaking up brain science. Cerebrum, 726. http://home.comcast.net/~sean.day/Cytowic2002.pdf (accessed 5 November 2007).
4.Dann, K. T. (1998) Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge, 2nd edn (New Haven: Yale University Press).
5.Harrison, J. (2001) Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
6.Ramachandran, V. S. (2003) Purple numbers and sharp cheese. BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures: pars. 1–20, http://www.bbc.co.uk/print/radio4/reith2003/lecture4.shtml?print (accessed 20 July 2006).
7.Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2007) Hearing colours, tasting shapes. Scientific American, 5359. www.sciam.com (accessed 16 August 2007).
8.Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2003) The phenomonology of synaesthesia. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(8), 4957. www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/R_H-follow-up.pdf (accessed 16 August 2007).
9.Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2005) Neurocognitive mechanisms of synesthesia. Neuron, 48(3), 509520. http:www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(05)00835-4 (accessed 16 August 2007).
10.Sacks, O. (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (London: Picador), pp. 165183.
11. This is clearly shown in a photograph of his small study in the E.T.A. Hoffmann-Haus in Bamberg, where he lived 1808–1813. See Schmölder, A. (2006) Museen: Bamberg Stadt und Landkreis (Bamberg: Museen der Stadt Bamberg), p. 13.
12. The concept of the sensorium resembles the modern understanding of synaesthesia. Romantic sensibility also overlaps in many ways with synaesthesia. Likewise, the contemporary understanding of vitalism, encompassing the idea of fluid nervous transmission through the body, suggests the instantaneous mechanisms of synaesthesia. See Minter, C. J. (2001) Literary ‘Empfindsamkeit’ and nervous sensibility in Eighteenth-century Germany. The Modern Language Review, 96(4), par. 4. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc.1G1-80448776.html (accessed 20 February 2008). She appositely connects artistic sensibility in Romantic German literature with the influential work of various scientists, including the vitalist Albrecht von Haller. Haller, she notes, ‘provid(ed) what to the eighteenth-century mind was strong evidence that the nerves are hollow fibres filled with a subtle fluid (the nervous fluid or vital spirits)’.
13. Dann defines kinaesthesia in human beings as ‘the inner sense of one’s own body’ in Dann, K. T. (1998) Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge, 2nd edn (New Haven: Yale University Press), p. 171.
14. The term transcendence is used throughout to mean a visionary state of consciousness that goes beyond reason or rational classification. Hoffmann’s artist figures Anselmus (Band 2/1, p. 321), Kreisler (Band 2/1, p. 454), Der Sandmann’s narrator (Band 3, pp. 25–27), Berklinger and Traugott (Band 4, pp. 191–193) and many others, temporarily experience transcendence. These and subsequent parenthetical references to Hoffmann’s writing are to Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann: Sämtliche Werke, 6 Bänden (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1985–2004).
15.Schafer, R. M. (1975) E. T. A. Hoffmann and Music (Toronto: Toronto University Press), pp. 4344, argues that it is necessary to understand ‘the synaesthesia of the romantic cosmology to get to the heart of Hoffmann’s writing’. He uses the word synaesthesia in this Romantic context to signify the unmediated bond between the artist and the spirit which was believed to flow through the material world around him. Schafer reports 652 references to synaesthesia in Hoffmann’s work and reads his acute hearing as the dominant sense (149). However, he separates Hoffmann’s overpowering receptivity to music from his production of metaphors, claiming that ‘music was so wild and uncontrollable’ for Hoffmann that he could only apprehend it ‘through the screen of a less blinding metaphor first’ (155–156). A metaphor that precedes and reduces full acoustic exposure contradicts the idea of creative synaesthesia as defined in our article.
16. Although we have used scientific and scientist to describe Romantic Science, the term natural philosophy (Naturwissenschaft) signified science during that period.
17. These physicians practised mesmerism well after its popularity and reputation had declined in France. See Tatar, M. M. (1975) Mesmerism, madness, and death in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der goldene Topf. Studies in Romanticism, 14, 366367.
18. Although sceptical about clinical mesmeric practices, Hoffmann always attributed electrical and magnetic powers to his artist figures, as can be seen in Kreisleriana, Don Juan, Der Magnetiseur, Der goldene Topf, Rat Krespel, Die Automate and his novel Kater Murr.
19. Hoffmann described Schubert’s Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaften (Dresden: Arnoldsche Buchhandlung, 1808) as ‘magnificent’, and read his Symbolik des Traumes (Bamberg: C. F. Kunz, 1814) as soon as it was published. See Sahlin, J. C. (ed.) and trans. (1977) Selected Letters of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Chicago, London: Chicago University Press), pp. 203 and 229.
20.Hoffmann, E. T. A.Johannes Kreisler’s Lehrbrief (Ref. 14, Band 2/1: p. 453). ‘Just as in the words of a brilliant physicist, hearing is seeing from within, so to the musician seeing is hearing from within, attainable only through the profoundest awareness of music, which resounds from everything his eye falls upon, and vibrates in sympathy with his spirit (die mit seinem Geiste gleichmässig vibrierend aus allem ertönt, was sein Auge erfaβt)’.
21.Ritter, J. W. (1984) Fragmente aus dem Nachlasse eines jungen Physikers: Ein Taschenbuch für Freunde der Natur, 1st edn 1810, 2 Bänden (Leipzig und Weimar: Kiepenheuer Verlag), Band 1, fragment 358, p. 166.
22. J. W. Ritter (1984) Fragmente aus dem Nachlasse eines jungen Physikers: Ein Taschenbuch für Freunde der Natur, 1st edn 1810, 2 Bänden (Leipzig und Weimar: Kiepenheuer Verlag) Band 2, pp. 268–269. See Strässle, T. (2004) ‘Das Hören ist ein Sehen von und durch innen’: Johann Wilhelm Ritter and the aesthetics of music. In: Donovan, S., Elliott, R. (eds) 2004 Music and Literature in German Romanticism (Woodbridge: Camden House), pp. 2829. Strässle clearly explains Ritter’s linguistic theories in relation to hearing and vision.
23.Ritter, J. W. (1984) Fragmente aus dem Nachlasse eines jungen Physikers: Ein Taschenbuch für Freunde der Natur, 1st edn 1810, 2 Bänden (Leipzig und Weimar: Kiepenheuer Verlag) 1, frag. 358, 166.
24. Foot 1 defines the sensorium commune.
25. Ramachandran and Hubbard define synkinesia as ‘a kind of spillover of signals [which] occur between two nearby motor areas: those that require the sequence of muscle movements required for hand gestures and those for the mouth’ in Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2007) Hearing colours, tasting shapes. Scientific American, 59. www.sciam.com (accessed 16 August 2007). The Ritter Gluck figure is much prone to this condition. Kinaesthesia is defined in Ref. 13.
26. Illustrations of synaesthetic brain activity can be found in Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2007) Hearing colours, tasting shapes. Scientific American, 55. www.sciam.com (accessed 16 August 2007), and V. S. Ramachandran and E. M. Hubbard (2005) Neurocognitive mechanisms of synesthesia. Neuron, 48(3), 515, http:www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(05)00835-4 (accessed 16 August 2007).
27. For examples, see Der Musikfeind 2/1: 428; Kreislers Musikalisch-poetischer Clubb 2/1: 372; Brief des Kapelmeisters Kreisler an den Baron Wallborn 2/1: 368; Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief 2/1: 453; Kater Murr 5: 176.
28. Eidetic experience is ‘healthful, not pathological’ and ‘although not dependent on an actual external object, … is “seen” in the mind and is accompanied by bodily engagement with the image’. See Dann, K. T. (1998) Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge, 2nd edn (New Haven: Yale University Press), p. 12.
29.Sacks, O. (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (London: Picador), p. 165 and pp. 179–180.
30.Baron-Cohen, S. and Harrison, J. (1996) Synaesthesia: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 811. See also J. Harrison (2001) Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 115–140. Harrison enumerates many artists, putatively with no synaesthetic tendencies, who employ metaphor.
31. Jean Paul Richter, who wrote a laudatory Foreword for Die Fantasiestücke, later described Hoffmann’s muse as ‘Belladonna’ and his later stories as achieving ‘genuine madness’. Jean Paul is quoted in Sahlin, J. C., ed. and trans. (1977) Selected Letters of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Chicago, London: Chicago University Press), pp. 205207 and 321–322. Walter Scott described Hoffmann as exhibiting ‘a touch of mental derangement’, accentuated by over-indulgence in wine and tobacco. See ‘On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition; and particularly on the Works of Ernest Theodore William Hoffman (sic)’, [London] Foreign Quarterly Review 1 (1827), p. 74. Ludwig Börne’s contemporary comment: ‘The humor in the writings of the author of the Fantasiestücke is sick’ is in the same vein. Börne is quoted in J.M. McGlathery (1997) E. T. A. Hoffmann, World Authors 868 (New York: Twayne, 1997), p. 24. The notion that Hoffmann’s work was written under the influence of opiates still pertained as late as Erica von Erhardt-Siebald’s 1932 critique of European Romanticism in E. von Erhardt-Siebald (1932) Harmony of the senses in English, German, and French Romanticism. PMLA, 47(2), 589.
32. For various interpretations of true synaesthesia see Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2005) Neurocognitive mechanisms of synesthesia. Neuron, 48(3), 516, http:www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(05)00835-4 (accessed 16 August 2007); R. E. Cytowic (2002) Touching tastes, seeing smells – and shaking up brain science. Cerebrum, 26. http://home.comcast.net/~sean.day/Cytowic2002.pdf (accessed 5 November 2007); S. Baron-Cohen and J. Harrison (1996) Synaesthesia: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford: Blackwell), p. 49; J. Harrison (2001) Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 21–22 and 254.
33. Recurring critical examinations of synaesthesia and Romanticism are indicated by von Erhardt-Siebald, E. (1932) Harmony of the senses in English, German, and French Romanticism. PMLA, 47(2), 589; W. Silz (1942) Heine’s synaesthesia. PMLA, 57(2), 469–488; G. O’Malley (1957) Literary synaesthesia. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 15(4), 391–411. Schafer devotes a chapter to it (R. M. Schafer (1975) in E. T. A. Hoffmann and Music (Toronto: Toronto University Press), pp. 149–155), as does the neurologist Sacks (O. Sacks (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (London: Picador), pp. 165–183). See also P. Watts (1972) Music: The Medium of the Metaphysical in E. T. A. Hoffmann (Amsterdam: Rodopi), pp. 49–52. Watts concurs with the widely accepted critical view that Hoffmann was fully conversant with the condition of synaesthesia. Unlike our neurophysiological account, she describes Hoffmann’s synaesthesia as ‘mystical’ (50), emphasising instigation of transcendence from metaphysical powers ‘outside the spheres of time, space, and the sound medium’ (52) (our italics). We contend she misreads cause and effect in Ritter Gluck and Hoffmann’s work in general, where the cosmic sound of nature and certain instrumental and vocal sounds, registered through the senses, initiate inspiration in synaesthetic artists.
34.O’Malley, G. (1957) Literary synaesthesia. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 15(4), 406.
35. Most synaesthetes report the dominance of two senses operating mono-directionally, most commonly the bleeding of auditory tone to colour or colour to tone (Ramachandran, V. S. and Hubbard, E. M. (2003) The phenomonology of synaesthesia. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(8), 51, www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/R_H-follow-up.pdf (accessed 16 August 2007)). However, Cytowic’s research endorses multiple firings of neural pathways (R. E. Cytowic (2002) Touching tastes, seeing smells – and shaking up brain science. Cerebrum, 22–23. http://home.comcast.net/~sean.day/Cytowic2002.pdf (accessed 5 November 2007). He also observes that synaesthesia frequently causes involuntary body movement (p. 21).
36. In this respect, Sacks’s argument that Hoffmann’s repeated literary use of synaesthesia is ‘too specific’ to be classed as ‘pseudosynesthetic (sic) metaphor’ supersedes O’Malley’s argument. Sacks, O. (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (London: Picador), p. 166.
37. See Schmidt, R. (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E.T.A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck. In: Werner Keil and Charis Goer (eds) Seelenaccente – Ohrenphysiognomik: Zur Musikanschauung E. T. A. Hoffmanns, Heinses und Wackenroders in Discordanzen: Studien zur neueren Musikgeschicht, Band 8 (Hildesheim: Olms), pp. 1161.
38. In this context, sensibility means ‘hair-triggered’ sensitivity and ‘an intense emotional responsiveness to beauty and sublimity, whether in art or nature’. See Abrams, M. H. (1993) A Glossary of Literary Terms (Fort Worth: Harcourt and Brace), pp. 190191.
39. Minter informatively links writers, philosophers and scientists who espoused accepted wisdom concerning the sensorium, sensibility and vitalism – see Minter, C. J. (2001) Literary ‘Empfindsamkeit’ and nervous sensibility in Eighteenth-century Germany. The Modern Language Review, 96(4), pars 1 and 10. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc.1G1-80448776.html (accessed 20 February 2008). A generalised refusal to separate emotion and cognition pervaded these three areas of study.
40.Minter, C. J. (2001) Literary ‘Empfindsamkeit’ and nervous sensibility in Eighteenth-century Germany. The Modern Language Review, 96(4), pars 6–16. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc.1G1-80448776.html (accessed 20 February 2008).
41.Sahlin, J. C. (ed.) and trans. (1977) Selected Letters of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Chicago, London: Chicago University Press), pp. 60, 65 and 305.
42. Nathanael in Der Sandmann, Krespel in Rat Krespel and Leonhard Ettlinger in Kater Murr exemplify this claim.
43.Minter, C. J. (2001) Literary ‘Empfindsamkeit’ and nervous sensibility in Eighteenth-century Germany. The Modern Language Review, 96(4), par. 18. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc.1G1-80448776.html (accessed 20 February 2008). Jean Paul Richter’s argument prefigures Cytowic’s claim that what ‘the body feels as physical, the mind apprehends as mental’ (Ref. 3, p. 26).
44. Critics disagree on the question of whether the Gluck figure is a revenant of the actual composer, Christoph Willibald Gluck, who died in 1787; whether he is a madman who thinks he is Gluck; or whether he is a figment of the narrator’s imagination. See the useful summary in Schmidt, R. (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E.T.A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck. In: Werner Keil and Charis Goer (eds) Seelenaccente – Ohrenphysiognomik: Zur Musikanschauung E. T. A. Hoffmanns, Heinses und Wackenroders in Discordanzen: Studien zur neueren Musikgeschicht, Band 8 (Hildesheim: Olms), pp. 1517. These differing readings do not affect our argument.
45. From Himmel’s popular opera, Fanchon, first performed in Berlin in 1804.
46.Ritter Gluck was written when Hoffmann was working on Der Dichter und Komponist (The Poet and Composer), a literary piece that sets out his theory of opera, a genre which relies on the sonority of the singing voice. At this time Hoffmann’s work was saturated by opera; he had just begun his first full scale opera, Undine, and was also reviewing Gluck’s contribution to opera. His review of Gluck’s Iphigenie en Aulide (1774) was published in 1810 in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, the same journal that published Ritter Gluck.
47. Our argument foregrounds a more egalitarian, textual heterogeneity than Schmidt, who emphasises how much the narrator learns from the Gluck figure. See (2002) Heroes and villains in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s ‘Ritter Gluck’. Bulletin, John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 84(3): 50. We maintain that the narrator’s voice may be decentred and recentred as the story progresses, but there is only one narrator whose interpretation of events colours the whole. His position is at least equal to his interlocutor whose monologues he reports.
48. Polyphony in literary terms means the absence of hierarchical importance in multi-voiced discourse. Alternative translations from the Russian for polyphonic are ‘carnivalised’, ‘dialogic’ or ‘heteroglossic’. See Bakhtin, M. M. (1981) The Dialogical Imagination, trans. C. Emerson and Michael Holquist, ed. Michael Holquist (USA Austin: Texas University Press), p. 426. In musical polyphony the voice-parts are also of equal value.
49. In musical terminology, polyphony means literally ‘combin(ing) several simultaneous voice-parts of individual design, in contrast to monophonic music, which consists of a single melody …’. See Appel, W. (ed.) (1970) Harvard Dictionary of Music (London: Heinemann), p. 687.
50. The real Gluck was renowned for his ability to compose whole works in his head before committing them to a score. See Howard, P. (1995) Gluck: An Eighteenth-Century Portrait in Letters and Documents (Oxford: Clarendon), p. 249.
51. See Scher, S. P. (1968) E.T.A. Hoffmann’s ‘Ritter Gluck’: the platonic idea. In: Verbal Music in German Literature (New Haven: Yale University Press), pp. 6062 and 166. Scher describes these facial and bodily contractile movements as ‘verbal pantomime’, but does not engage closely with an interpretation in terms of synaesthesia or synkinesia.
52. Schmidt usefully relates the narrator’s experience of Gluck’s music, rendered in fragments and continuously transformed in performance, to the central Romantic tenet of ‘progression’ without ending – see Schmidt, R. (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E.T.A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck. In: Werner Keil and Charis Goer (eds) Seelenaccente – Ohrenphysiognomik: Zur Musikanschauung E. T. A. Hoffmanns, Heinses und Wackenroders in Discordanzen: Studien zur neueren Musikgeschicht, Band 8 (Hildesheim: Olms), pp. 46. Her conclusion is that ‘Hoffmann developed a Romantic way of reading classical music’ (p. 60).
53.Kent and Knight offer an alternative translation with a broader application. See L. J. Kent and E. C. Knight (eds) and trans. (1972) Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Chicago: Chicago University Press), p. 8.
54. Commensurate with these intertextual references to Johann Ritter in Ritter Gluck, in Die Automate Ludwig and Friedrich’s discussions about music, musical instruments and nature tones specifically acknowledge the theories of G. H. Schubert (Band 4, pp. 419–425).
55. See Charlton, D. (ed.) (1989) E. T. A Hoffmann’s Musical Writings: Kreisleriana, The Poet and the Composer, Music Criticism, trans. Martyn Clarke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 129. Charlton observes that this musical and metaphysical chord ‘contains all the consonant intervals’.
56. Another meaning of Tierce refers to the final chord of a piece; in a major key, the final chord can be minor, and vice versa. This gives additional frisson or poignancy to the final chord, because it confounds the listener’s expectations. Similar connections between specific musical tones and synaesthetic flights of the imagination occur in Kreislers Musikalisch-Poetischer Clubb (2/1: 372–375).
57. Schmidt also reads the sunflower as emblematic of the artist looking simultaneously outwards to nature and inwards at himself. Linking it with Antonio van Dyck’s Self-portrait with a Sunflower (1635–1636), in which the painter looks into the calyx of the flower, she extrapolates the metaphor as a visual example of artistic introspection. See Schmidt, R. (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E. T. A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck. In: Werner Keil and Charis Goer (eds) Seelenaccente – Ohrenphysiognomik: Zur Musikanschauung E. T. A. Hoffmanns, Heinses und Wackenroders in Discordanzen: Studien zur neueren Musikgeschicht, Band 8 (Hildesheim: Olms), p. 51.
58. Ritter’s acoustic theories of Physics anticipated recent recordings of the sound of planetary movement and Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. See www.astro.ubc.ca/people/scott/faq_basic.html (accessed 20 January 2009).
59. A similar synaesthetic experience in Der Artushof (1819) is described by a character claiming to be a reincarnation of Godofredus Berklinger, supposedly a long-dead German painter. The design of the character’s painting features the calyx of lilies, rather than of sunflowers, but similarly creates the effect of ‘a harmonious whole’ from disparate parts; ‘a pure and heavenly chord (himmlisch reine Akkord)’ that is eternally transfigured (Band 4, p. 191).
60. Musical readers of Ritter Gluck, its original intended audience, would have readily noticed the tri-partite structure of the story and probably associated it with the ABA musical shape of sonata and other forms. However, musical expertise is not necessary in order to appreciate the story’s preoccupation with sensibility and the influence of the senses and emotions on artistic creativity. Scher’s analysis of this tripartite structure informatively interconnects its musical and narrative frameworks. Scher, S. P. (1968) E. T. A. Hoffmann’s ‘Ritter Gluck’: the platonic idea. In: Verbal Music in German Literature (New Haven: Yale University Press), pp. 5860.
61. Schmidt offers many possible critical interpretations of the Euphon. Schmidt, R. (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E.T.A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck. In: Werner Keil and Charis Goer (eds) Seelenaccente – Ohrenphysiognomik: Zur Musikanschauung E. T. A. Hoffmanns, Heinses und Wackenroders in Discordanzen: Studien zur neueren Musikgeschicht, Band 8 (Hildesheim: Olms), pp. 1718. For example, Karoli argues that the Euphon is an imaginary sound, and McGlathery and Dobat link it to the glass harmonica invented by Chladni, versions of which were called the ‘euphony’ and the ‘clavicylinder’.
62. Sacks makes a strong case for eidetic synaesthesia, which operates just as strongly when a synaesthetic episode is remembered as when first experienced. Sacks, O. (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (London: Picador), (Ref. 29, pp. 179–80).
63.See R. Schmidt (2000) Klassische, romantische und postmoderne musikästhetische Paradigmen in E. T. A. Hoffmanns Ritter Gluck (Ref. 37, p. 59). She links Ritter Gluck's precipitous exit from the concert with a similar exit by the hypersensitive, music-loving narrator of the ironically entitled musical anecdote, Der Musikfeind (The Music-hater, 1814) (Ref. 14, Band 2/1, pp. 436–437).
64. The euphon consisted of a series of glass tubes that the performer rubbed lengthways, rather than rubbing the rims, as in the case of the glass harmonica. The London Journal, The Philosophical Magazine (1798), described it as ‘consisting of forty-one immoveable parallel cylinders of glass, of equal length and thickness’. See Dolan, E. I. (2008) E. T. A. Hoffmann and the ethereal technologies of ‘nature music’. Eighteenth Century Music, 5(1), 18.
65. In ‘Overture to Don Giovanni: Mozart’ (London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1941), the analytical commentary appended to the score stresses the unsettling effect of this introductory section which is analogous to the effect of the Euphon: ‘The changing harmonies and indefinite runs reflect the ghostly atmosphere of the situation’ (no pagination). Treby likens the unexpectedly disturbing effect of this timbre on the listener to the effect of the basset horn in Mozart’s Requiem. O’Malley offers a synasthetic reading of Hoffmann's description of the sound of the basset horn (Ref. 34).
66.Dolan, E. I. (2008) E. T. A. Hoffmann and the ethereal technologies of ‘nature music’. Eighteenth Century Music, 5(1), 19 and 26.
67.Howard, P. (1995) Gluck: An Eighteenth-Century Portrait in Letters and Documents (Oxford: Clarendon), p. 19: ‘At Mr. Hickford’s Great Room in Brewer’s-street on Monday April 14th, Signor Gluck, composer of the Operas, will exhibit a Concert of Music By the best Performers from the Opera-House. Particularly, he will play a Concerto upon Twenty-Six Drinking Glasses, tuned with Spring-Water, accompanied with the whole Band, being a new instrument of his own invention.; upon which he performs whatever may be done on a Violin or Harpsichord; and therefore hopes to satisfy the Curious as well as the Lovers of Musick.’ (General Advertiser, 31 Mar. 1746).
68. See D. Charlton (ed.) (1989) E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Musical Writings: Kreisleriana, The Poet and the Composer, Music Criticism, trans. Martyn Clarke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 418. Hoffmann continues, ‘For any young lady of breeding it would have been most ill-advised, as soon as the glasses were even touched, not to fall into a tolerably convincing swoon’ (‘A Letter from Kapellmeister Johannes Kriesler’, Der Freimuthige 16, April 29 and 30, 1819). See also Hadlock, H. (2000) Sonorous bodies: women and the glass harmonica. Journal of the American Musicological Society, 53(3), 527. Hadlock likewise comments that the glass harmonica, once said to ‘bear transcendent truth, became by 1800 a sign of fakery, a tension between musical truth and illusion’.
69. There are striking similarities between Hoffmann’s study in his Bamberg house and the space described here. See interior photographs: Schmölder, A. (2006) Museen: Bamberg Stadt und Landkreis (Bamberg: Museen der Stadt Bamberg), 13; and R. Lewandowski (2003) E. T. A. Hoffmanns Bamberg (Bamberg: Verlag Fränkischer Tag), pp. 10–11.
70. Hoffmann’s character Kreisler describes a similar experience that recent scientific research would retrospectively interpret as synaesthetic and synkinetic: ‘So much arises simply from the mischief that my own notes create. They often come to life and jump up from the white pages like little black many-tailed imps. They whirl me along in their senseless dance, and I perform extraordinary capers and pull grotesque faces. But a single musical sound, sending out its glow of numinous incandescence, will still the tumult, and I am good and gentle and tolerant’ (2/2: 369).
71.See J. Riou (2004) Music and non-verbal reason in E. T. A. Hoffmann. Music and Literature in German Romanticism, 43–55. Riou’s pertinent reading of the external sound produced by the performance from the blank score interprets it as ‘actively felt in Hoffmann rather than passively imported’ (p. 52), with the pianist and listener as sounding boards for an inner auditory experience.
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European Review
  • ISSN: 1062-7987
  • EISSN: 1474-0575
  • URL: /core/journals/european-review
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