Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was born in 1776 in Prussia. A barrister by training, he became a law officer, but soon turned to his chief interests: music and literature. He held several positions as conductor, critic and theatrical musical director until 1814. He even changed his third name, Wilhelm, to Amadeus in homage to Mozart. Hoffman composed the music for the ballet Arlequin (1811) and the opera Undine (1814). However, too many obstacles impeded Hoffman’s dream of a musical career, so he turned to writing, while continuing to support himself as a legal official in Berlin.
In his stories, Hoffmann skilfully combined wild flights of imagination with vivid and convincing examinations of human character and psychology. In his story Nutcracker and Mouse King, he invites readers inside the magical dream of a young girl, a highly imaginative space filled with both marvels and nightmares, lightness and darkness. He vividly depicts the long passage from childhood to adulthood, with its fears, rebellions, aspirations and terrors. This magical and lyrical tale has inspired numerous artists and remains a classic of fantasy literature. Hoffmann died in Berlin on June 25, 1822 at the age of 46.