views updated


Weiss family of German musicians:

(1) Johann Jacob Weiss, lutenist and composer; b. c. 1662; d. Mannheim, Jan. 30, 1754. He was active in Breslau from about 1686. Around 1708 he was made court lutenist of the Palatine chapel in Düsseldorf, following it to Heidelberg in 1718 and to Mannheim in 1720.

(2) Silvius Leopold Weiss, lutenist and composer, son of the preceding; b. Breslau, Oct. 12, 1686; d. Dresden, Oct. 16,1750. He most likely was a pupil of his father. He was in the service of Count Carl Philipp of the Palatinate in Breslau by 1706, and then was in Italy with Alexander Sobiesky, Prince of Poland (1708-14). In 1715 he entered the service of the Hessen- Kassel court, and shortly thereafter went to Düsseldorf; in 1717 he joined the chapel of the Saxon court in Dresden, where his status was formalized in 1718. He also traveled as a virtuoso, appearing in Prague (1717), London (1718), Vienna (1718-19), Munich (1722), Berlin (1728), and Leipzig (1739), where he visited J.S. Bach. Weiss was one of the foremost performers on and composers for the lute. His extant works number almost 600, the largest corpus of solo lute works by any composer in history. D. Smith ed. his complete works (Frankfurt am Main, 1980 et seq.). His son, Johann Adolf Faustinus Weiss (b. Dresden, April 15,1741; d. there, Jan. 21,1814), was also a lutenist and composer who served as chamber lutenist at the Dresden court from 1763 until his death. He traveled widely, and composed a number of lute pieces and some guitar music.


K. Prusik, Kompositionen des Lautenisten S.L. W.(diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1924); W. Mason, The Lute Music of S.L. W.(diss., Univ. of N.C., 1949); D. Smith, The Late Sonatas of S.L W.(diss., Stanford Univ., 1977); U. Neu, Harmonik und Affektgestaltung in den Lautenkompositionen von S.L. W.(Frankfurt am Main, 1995).

(3)Johann Sigismund Weiss, lutenist, viola da gambist, violinist, and composer, brother of the preceding; b. probably in Breslau, c. 1689; d. Mannheim, April 12, 1737. He most likely studied with his father. He became a lutenist at the Palatine chapel in Düsseldorf about 1708, following it to Heidelberg in 1718 and to Mannheim in 1720. In 1732 he was named director of instrumental music there, and later served as Konzertmeister and theorbo player. As a composer, he was one of the finest representatives of the early Mannheim school.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire