The Tales of Hoffmann

Germany 1916, 84 min. | HD-s/w (virague)-restored version

The Tales of Hoffmann is a German silent film from 1916 by Richard Oswald, loosely based on motifs from the opera of the same name, which in turn is based on some of E. T. A. Hoffmann's novellas.

The young Hoffmann lives with his uncle in Jena, who is warmly hated by him, as are several figures from his circle of acquaintances: Conte Dapertutto, the alchemists Coppelius and Spalanzani and the physician Dr. Mirakel.

Around these figures, years later, three unhappy love stories unfold: (1) Through Coppelius′ miracle glasses, which show everything dead alive, he falls in love with the dancing doll Olympia. (2) Conte Dapertutto hounds Hoffmann and Schlemihl, both of whom are trying to win Giulietta, into a duel in which Schlemihl dies; Dapertutto makes off with his gold and the beloved. (3) Dr. Mirakel instigates Hoffmann to make Antonia, the daughter of Councillor Crespel, dance, which ends fatally for her. Hoffmann moves on to Berlin.

Commissioned by Konzerthaus Berlin, the Vienna-based German composer Johannes Kalitzke is writing a new film score for orchestra. In cooperation with ZDF in collaboration with Arte, the recordings will take place with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin conducted by the composer in September 2021.

The Tales of Hoffmann

Film music for orchestra by Johannes Kalitzke (2021)


Information will follow shortly.

Johannes Kalitzke (*1959)

studied piano, conducting and composition at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, followed by studies in electronic music. He is considered an excellent interpreter of classical and modern music and has regular guest conducting engagements with the leading ensembles, symphony orchestras and opera houses in the field of contemporary music. However, the main focus of his musical work is composition, especially for opera - most recently commissioned by the Heidelberg Opera PYM - and chamber ensemble. His orchestral film music for DIE WEBER (D 1927) is currently the most performed silent film music internationally, including by ensemble modern; it was co-produced by ZDF/ARTE in July 2013. This was followed by silent film music: SCHATTEN (D 1923), premiered at the Tagen für neue Kammermusik 2016, Witten, as a co-production ZDF/ARTE and WDR, ORLACS HÄNDE (A 1924), premiered in Salzburg (aspekte) 2018 and broadcast on ARTE in 2019. His most recent work with film, the church film opera JEANNE D' ARC (F 1928), premiered at the Carinthian Summer 2020 on 20.08.20.

Richard Oswald was born in Vienna in 1880. He began a career as an actor in Vienna before working as a director for the first time in 1914 and founding his own production company, "Richard Oswald-Film GmbH", in 1916. Oswald was considered the founder of the so-called Enlightenment film. He often dealt with taboo subjects in his works, such as homosexuality, abortion or venereal diseases. Many of these films, mostly made in the late 1910s, were heavily censored. After a phase of rather unsuccessful classic film adaptations, Oswald directed many genre films in the 1920s. From 1926 he worked for Nero-Film, which he founded together with Heinrich Nebenzahl. In addition to light material ('Im weißen Rössl', 1926) and old favourites ('Der Hund von Baskerville', 'Frühlings Erwachen', both 1929), he also tackled politically explosive themes with 'Feme' (1927), a film about the assassination of Walter Rathenau. In 1930 he directed his first sound film 'Wien, du Stadt der Lieder'. With the beginning of the Nazi regime, Richard Oswald fled to Paris in 1933 and later emigrated to the USA with his wife and their children. In America he made three films, but could not continue his earlier successes. During a visit to Germany, Oswald fell ill and died in Düsseldorf on 11 September 1963.

© DFF German Film Institute & Film Museum


  • Direction:
    Richard Oswald
  • Screenplay:
    Fritz Friedmann-Frederich, Richard Oswald
  • Camera:
    Ernst Krohn
  • Actors:
    Kurt von Wolowski (young Hoffmann), Max Ruhbeck (uncle), Paula Ronay (aunt), Werner Krauß (Conte Dapertutto), Friedrich Kühne (Coppelius, spectacle dealer), Lupu Pick (Spalanzani, Director of a museum), Ernst Ludwig (Rat Crespel), Nely Ridon (Rat Crespel, his wife) a.o.
  • Film restoration (2021):
    Filmarchiv Austria
  • Score music (2021):
    Johannes Kalitzke (Commissioned by Konzerthaus Berlin)
  • Redaktion:
    Nina Goslar, ZDF
  • Production:
    Thomas Schmölz, 2eleven music film

Silent film classic by Arte -

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