Nitschmann’s literary and musical work was significantly influenced by the ideas of Romanticism. As a translator, he chose mainly Romantic poetry. When he was born, Polish Romanticism was just beginning, while in Germany it had already entered its mature stage. The currents of this epoch also reached East and West Prussia. E. T. A. Hoffmann, one of the most important authors of Gothic horror, was born in Koenigsberg, where J. G. Herder, later a leading representative of Weimer Classicism, also studied and began his intellectual career. J. G. Fichte, who before becoming famous as one of the creators of German idealism, was a private teacher in the Kashubian village of Krokowa. The reconstruction of the Teutonic Order Castle in Malbork, carried out in the spirit of the Romantic fascination with the medieval past, is a great symbol of this era. In 1833, the First Prussian Music Festival was held in the refectory of the castle on the initiative of Christian Urban from Elbląg. Romantic authors who worked in Elbląg (and who are mostly forgotten today) included the composer Johann Benjamin Gross and Johanne Satori-Neumann, a prolific historical novelist very popular in her time. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Biedermeier style developed, somewhat in contrast to the Romantic trends. It found its clearest expression in furniture design and interior decoration, but also influenced the visual arts, music and literature. The style is often associated with the idea of “coziness” and the importance of family values. Later, Biedermeier was for many an embodiment of the “good old days” (to use a phrase of B. Satori-Neumann from Elbląg). Others, however, saw the style as a relic of petty bourgeois backwardness and conservatism.
Illustrations (from top):
1. The interior in Biedermeier style in the Carl Pudor Regional Museum in Elbląg from the pre-war period.
2. The view of the Old Market in the Biedermeier period. The first plan shows the citizens in the clothing characteristic of that era. A litography after a drawing by Johann Heinrich Hoorn from 1830.
3. A portrait of Johanne Satori-Neumann, an author of widely read Romantic novels and founder of the girls’ school in Elbląg.
The source for figures 1-3: B. Satori-Neumann, Elbing im Biedermeier und Vormärz. Enstes und Heiteres aus der guten alten Zeit (1815–1848), Elbing 1933.