E.T.A. Hoffmann: 3 Canzonette Italiane
Ed. H Schulze. Deutscher Verlag; Breitkopf
Hoffmann's Tales preceded a whole flock of followers, notably Poe. In Hoffmann's music however the great mystery is his lack of imagination. There's a thin watery trickle of melodic invention, but the harmony is as dull and static as silt. Our indulgent editor is surprised that these canzonets remained in obscurity; “the reasons for the publishers' refusal can no longer be established”. Personally I should have thought that the real puzzle resided in the present acceptance. Perhaps we are in for a new vogue of music with mainly literary appeal. I'd recommend the vocal works of Nietzsche and Manley Hopkins as the next two in the series. Meanwhile it should be said that this text is well edited and presented, and should still be in plenty of time to surge back into oblivion on the great wave of apathy that has greeted the Hoffmann bicentenary.
The Musical Times, Nov. 1976