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Romantic Music and Literature - Schumann and E.T.A. Hoffmann

            One can arguably say that the worlds of the German Romantic composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) and the German Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) can seamlessly collide in their finest works. Schumann and Hoffmann were linked in many aspects of life including their shared passion for both literature and music, and in their eccentric and slight bipolar personalities - The similarities in their Romantic views as well as the way they expressed themselves through art form was uncanny. This is found to be most evident in Schumann's piano song cycle, Kreisleriana, and in E.T.A. Hoffman's novel, Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr for numerous reasons.
             Perhaps the biggest and most notable similarity between the two major works is the dualism and constant abrupt change in the literature and music. Hoffmann, in his novel, constantly switches back and forth from the section narrated by the Tomcat, Murr ("Murr continues " " m.c.) and the section that contains the flashbacks of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler's life ("scrap paper " - s.p.). Hoffmann enjoyed jumping back and forth from the two contrasting sections without any preparation and usually always abruptly switched in mid-sentence of the narrations. However, the dualism and sudden contrast isn't only found in the structure of Hoffmann's writing but also through the characteristics of the main character, Johannes Kreisler. Each time the story flashes back to speak about Kreisler, the readers are led to discover more and more strange mannerisms about him. For example, in the first s.p. ("scrap paper ") section of the novel, Kreisler encounters Meister Abraham and speaks about the Furstin's birthday where Meister Abraham tells Kreisler about all the sorcery and magic tricks played at the festival. The important thing to note during this flashback is the way Kreisler reacts to Meister Abraham. He shows a vast variety of emotions within a very short period of time whilst speaking to Abraham " he was furious and full of anger which then quickly turned into excitement and laughter.

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