Opera and Ballet Stories in Music    

Lesson 23: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King - Chapter 14: The Conclusion

by E.T.A. Hoffman

Performer: LibriVox - Sandra Cullum

Prr—puff it went! Maria fell down from an immeasurable height. That was a fall! But she opened her eyes, and there she lay upon her little bed. It was bright day, and her mother stood by her, saying, "How can you sleep so long? Breakfast has been ready this great while."

You now perceive, kind readers and listeners, that Maria, completely confused by the wonderful things which she had seen, had at last fallen asleep in the room at Marchpane Castle, and that the Moors, or the pages, or perhaps even the princesses themselves must have carried her home, and laid her softly in bed.

"Oh, mother, dear mother, you cannot think where young Master Drosselmeier led me last night, and what beautiful things I have seen!" And then she began and told the whole, almost as accurately as I have related it, while her mother listened in astonishment.

When she had finished, her mother said, "You have had a long and very beautiful dream, but now drive it all out of your head."

Maria insisted upon it that she had not dreamed, but had actually seen what she had related.

When her mother led her into the sitting room, to the glass case, took Nutcracker out, who was standing, as usual, upon the second shelf, and said, "Silly child, how can you believe that this wooden. Nuremberg puppet can have life or motion?"

"But, dear mother," replied Maria, "I know little Nutcracker is young Master Drosselmeier, of Nuremberg, Godfather Drosselmeier's nephew."

Then her father and mother both laughed very heartily.

"Ah, dear father," said Maria, almost crying, "you should not laugh so at my Nutcracker. He has spoken very well of you. For when we entered Marchpane Castle, and he presented me to his sisters, the princesses, he said that you were a much respected and very worthy physician." At this the laughter was still louder, and Louise, and even Fred, joined in.

Maria then ran into the other chamber, took the seven crowns of the Mouse-King out of her little box, brought them in, and handed them to her mother, saying, "See here, dear mother, here are the seven crowns of the Mouse-King, which young Master Drosselmeier gave me last night, as a token of his victory."

Her mother examined the little crowns in great astonishment. They were made of a strange but very shining metal, and were so delicately worked, that it seemed impossible that mortal hands could have formed them. Her father, likewise, could not gaze enough at them, and he insisted very seriously that Maria should confess how she obtained them.

But she could give no other account of them, and kept firm to what she had said, and, as her father spoke very harshly to her, and even called her a little storyteller, she began to cry bitterly, and said, "Oh, what, what then shall I say?"

At this moment the door opened. The Counsellor entered, and exclaimed, "What's this? What's this?"

The doctor told him of all that had happened, and showed him the little crowns.

As soon as the Counsellor cast his eyes on them, he laughed and cried, "Stupid pack—stupid pack! These are the very crowns which I used to wear on my watch-chain, years ago, and which I gave to little Maria, on her birthday, when she was two years old. Don't you remember them?"

Neither father nor mother could remember them, but when Maria saw that her parents had forgotten their anger, she ran to Godfather Drosselmeier, and said, "Ah, you know all about it, Godfather Drosselmeier. Tell them yourself, that my Nutcracker is your nephew, young Master Drosselmeier, of Nuremberg, and that it was he who gave me the crowns!"

The Counsellor's face turned very dark and grave, and he muttered, "Stupid pack—stupid pack!"

Upon this, the doctor took little Maria upon his knee, and said very seriously, "Listen to me, Maria. Once for all, drive your foolish dreams and nonsense out of your head. If I ever hear you say again, that the silly, ugly Nutcracker is the nephew of your Godfather Drosselmeier, I will throw him out of the window, and all the rest of your puppets, Miss Clara not excepted."

Poor Maria durst not now speak of all these wonders, but she thought so much the more. Her whole soul was full of them. For you may imagine, that things so fine and beautiful as those which she had seen are not easily forgotten.

Even Fred turned his back upon his sister, whenever she spoke of the wonderful kingdom in which she had been so happy, and, it is said, that he sometimes would mutter between his teeth, "Silly goose!" But that I can hardly believe of so amiable and good-natured a fellow. This is certain, however, he no longer believed a word of what Maria had told him. He made a formal apology to his hussars, on public parade, for the injustice which he had done them, stuck in their caps feathers of goose-quill, much finer and taller than those of which they had been deprived, and permitted them again to blow the Hussar's Grand March. Ah, ha! we know best how it stood with their courage, when those hateful balls spotted their red coats!

Maria was not allowed, then, to speak any more of her adventures, but the images of that wonderful fairy kingdom played about her in sweet, rustling tones. She could bring them all back again, whenever she fixed her thoughts steadfastly upon them, and hence it came, that, instead of playing, as she formerly did, she would sit silent and thoughtful, musing within herself, for which reason the rest would often scold her, and call her a little dreamer.

Sometime after this, it happened that the Counsellor was busy, repairing a clock in Doctor Stahlbaum's house. Maria sat close by the glass case, and, lost in her dreams, was gazing at Nutcracker, when the words broke from her lips involuntarily, "Ah, dear Master Drosselmeier, if you actually were living, I would not behave like Princess Pirlipat, and slight you, because for my sake you had ceased to be a handsome young man!"

At this, the Counsellor screamed, "Hey—hey—stupid pack!"

Then there was a clap, and a knock, so loud, that Maria sank from her chair in a swoon.

When she came to herself, her mother was busied about her, and said, "How came such a great girl to fall from her chair? Here is Godfather Drosselmeier's nephew, just arrived from Nuremberg! Come behave like a little woman!"

She looked up. The Counsellor had put on his glass wig again, and his brown coat. He was smiling very pleasantly, and he held by the hand a little but very well-shaped young man. His face was as white as milk, and as red as blood. He wore a handsome red coat, trimmed with gold, and shoes and white silk stockings. In his buttonhole was stuck a nosegay. His hair was nicely powdered and curled, and down his back there hung a magnificent queue. The sword by his side seemed to be made of nothing but jewels, it flashed and sparkled so brightly, and the little hat which he carried under his arm looked as if it were overlaid with soft, silken flakes.

It very soon appeared how polite and well-bred the young man was, for he had brought Maria a great many handsome playthings, the nicest gingerbread, and the same sugar figures which the Mouse-King had bitten to pieces, and for Fred he had brought a splendid sabre. At table, the little fellow cracked nuts for the whole company, the hardest could not resist him. With the right hand he put them in his mouth. With the left, he pulled hard upon his queue, and, crack, the nut fell in pieces!

Maria had turned very red when she first saw the handsome young man, and she became still redder, when, after dinner, young Drosselmeier invited her to go with him into the sitting room to the glass case. "Play prettily together, children. I have nothing against it, since all my clocks are going," cried the Counsellor.

Scarcely was Maria alone with young Drosselmeier, when he stooped upon one knee, and said, "Oh, my very best Miss Stahlbaum, you see here at your feet the happy Drosselmeier, whose life you saved on this very spot. You said most amiably, that you would not slight me, like the hateful Princess Pirlipat, if I had become ugly for your sake. From that moment, I ceased to be a miserable Nutcracker, and resumed again my old and, I hope, not disagreeable figure. Oh, excellent Miss Stahlbaum, make me happy with your dear hand. Share with me crown and kingdom. Rule with me in Marchpane Castle, for there I am still king!"

Maria raised the youth, and said softly, "Dear Master Drosselmeier, you are a kind, good-natured young man, and, since you rule in such a charming land, among such pretty, merry people, I will be your bride." With this, Maria immediately became Drosselmeier's betrothed bride.

After a year and a day, he came, as I have heard, and carried her away in a golden chariot, drawn by silver horses. There danced at the wedding two-and-twenty thousand of the most splendid figures, adorned with pearls and diamonds, and Maria, it is said, is at this hour queen of a land, where sparkling Christmas woods, transparent Marchpane Castles, in short, where the most beautiful, the most wonderful things can be seen by those who will only have eyes for them.

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    Opera and Ballet Stories in Music    

Lesson 23: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King - Chapter 14: The Conclusion

by E.T.A. Hoffman

Performer: LibriVox - Sandra Cullum


Read the chapter and listen to the musical selection for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the synopsis.
  • Review any vocabulary terms.
  • Read about the composer.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


This lesson features chapter 14 of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story 'The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,' along with the entirety of the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a.


  1. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in 1840 in Votkinsk, Russia. Examine his picture.
  2. Zoom in and find Tchaikovsky's country of birth on the map of Europe below.
  3. Tchaikovsky took piano lessons starting at age five and wrote his first composition, a waltz in honor of his deceased mother, at the age of fourteen.
  4. Although as an adult Tchaikovsky first worked as a civil servant, he found his way back to music, enrolling in the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.
  5. Tchaikovsky worked as a music professor and a composer and was eventually voted into the French Académie des Beaux-Arts.
  6. Tchaikovsky died in 1893 at the age of 53, possibly from cholera due to drinking bad water.


Activity 1: Recite the Ballet Information

  • Recite the name of the composer and the name of the ballet.

Activity 2: Narrate the Story

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 3: Identify the Movements

A 'movement' is a principal division of a longer musical work, self-sufficient in terms of key, tempo, and structure.

There are eight (8) movements in the core Nutcracker Suite performance. Listen for each and try to identify them (the listed times will help at first and later instructors might randomize the movements). The titles of each movement are listed below.

  • Overture (time 0.00)
  • March (time 3.24)
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (time 6.11)
  • Trepak (Russian Dance) (time 8.25)
  • Coffee (Arabian Dance) (time 9.32)
  • Tea (Chinese Dance) (time 12.53)
  • Dance of the Reed Flutes (time 13.57)
  • Waltz of the Flowers (time 16.14)