Weber, Carl Maria (Friedrich Ernst) von

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Weber, Carl Maria (Friedrich Ernst) von

Weber, Carl Maria (Friedrich Ernst) von, celebrated German composer, pianist, and conductor, nephew of Fridolin Weber (see Weber ); b. Eutin, Oldenburg, Nov. 18, 1786; d. London, June 5, 1826. His father, Franz Anton von Weber (1734?-1812), was an army officer and a good musical amateur who played the violin and served as Kapellmeister in Eutin. It was his fondest wish that Carl Maria would follow in the footsteps of Mozart as a child prodigy (Constanze Weber, Mozart’s wife, was his niece, thus making Carl Maria a first cousin of Mozart by marriage). Carl Maria’s mother was a singer of some ability; she died when he was 11. Franz Anton led a wandering life as music director of his own theater company, taking his family with him on his tours. Although this mode of life interfered with Carl Maria’s regular education, it gave him practical knowledge of the stage, and stimulated his imagination as a dramatic composer. His first teachers were his father and his half-brother Fritz, a pupil of Haydn; at Hildburghausen, where he found himself with his father’s company in 1796, he also received piano instruction from J. P. Heuschkel. The next year he was in Salzburg, where he attracted the attention of Michael Haydn, who taught him counterpoint; he composed a set of 6 Fughetten there, which were publ. in 1798. As his peregrinations continued, he was taught singing by Valesi (J. B. Wallishauser) and composition by J. N. Kalcher in Munich (1798-1800). At the age of 12, he wrote an opera, Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins; it was never performed and the MS has not survived. Through a meeting with Aloys Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, he became interested in engraving; he became Senefelder’s apprentice, acquiring considerable skill in the method, and he engraved his own 6 Variations on an Original Theme for Piano (Munich, 1800). His father became interested in the business possibilities of lithography, and set up a workshop with him in Freiberg; however, the venture failed, and the young Carl Maria turned again to music. He composed a 2-act comic opera, Das Waldmadchen, in 1800; it was premiered in Freiberg on Nov. 24,1800, 6 days after his 14th birthday; performances followed in Chemnitz (Dec. 5, 1800) and Vienna (Dec. 4,1804). In 1801 the family was once more in Salzburg, where he studied further with Michael Haydn. Weber wrote another opera, Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn (1801-02). He gave a concert in Hamburg in Oct. 1802, and the family then proceeded to Augsburg; they remained there from Dec. 1802 until settling in Vienna in Sept. 1803. There, there Weber continued his studies with Abbe Vogler, at whose recommendation he secured the post of conductor of the Breslau Opera in 1804. He resigned this post in 1806 after his attempts at operatic reform caused dissension. In 1806 he became honorary Intendant to Duke Eugen of Wurttemberg-Ols at Schloss Carlsruhe in Upper Silesia; much of his time was devoted to composition there. In 1807 he was engaged as private secretary to Duke Ludwig in Stuttgart, and also gave music lessons to his children. This employment was abruptly terminated when Weber became innocently involved in a scheme of securing a ducal appointment for a rich man’s son in order to exempt him from military service, and accepted a loan of money. This was a common practice at the Stuttgart court, but as a result of the disclosure of Weber’s involvement, he was arrested (Feb. 9,1810) and kept in prison for 16 days. This matter, along with several others, was settled to his advantage, only to find him the target of his many creditors, who had him rearrested on Feb. 17. Finally, agreeing to pay off his debts as swiftly as possible, he was released and then banished by King Friedrich. He then went to Mannheim, where he made appearances as a pianist. He next went to Darmstadt, where he rejoined his former teacher, Vogler, for whom he wrote the introduction to his teacher’s ed. of 12 Bach chorales. On Sept. 16, 1810, Weber’s opera Silvana was successfully premiered in Frankfurt am Main; the title role was sung by Caroline Brandt, who later became a member of the Prague Opera; Weber and Brandt were married in Prague on Nov. 4, 1817. Weber left Darmstadt in Feb. 1811 for Munich, where he composed several important orch. works. Weber’s 1-act Singspiel, Abu Hassan, was successfully given in Munich on June 4,1811. From Aug. to Dec. 1811, Weber and Barmann gave concerts in Switzerland; after appearing in Prague in Dec. 1811, they went to Leipzig in Jan. 1812, and then on to Weimar and Dresden. On March 15, 1812, they gave a concert in Berlin, which was attended by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. On Dec. 17, 1812, Weber was soloist at the premiere of his 2nd Piano Concerto in Gotha. Upon his return to Prague in Jan. 1813, he was informed that he was to be the director of the German Opera there. He was given extensive authority, and traveled to Vienna to engage singers; he also secured the services of Franz Clement as concertmaster. During his tenure, Weber presented a distinguished repertoire, which included Beethoven’s Fidelio, however, when his reforms encountered determined opposition, he submitted his resignation (1816). On Dec. 14, 1816, he was appointed Musikdirektor of the German Opera in Dresden by King Friedrich August III. He opened his first season on Jan. 30,1817; that same year, he was named Koniglich Kapellmeister and began to make sweeping reforms. About this time he approached Friedrich Kind, a Dresden lawyer and writer, and suggested to him the idea of preparing a libretto on a Romantic German subject for his next opera. They agreed on Der Freischutz, a fairy tale from the Gespensterbuch, a collection of ghost stories by J. A. Apel and F. Laun. The composition of this work, which was to prove his masterpiece, occupied him for 3 years; the score was completed on May 13, 1820, and 2 weeks later Weber began work on the incidental music to Wolff’s Preciosa, a play in 4 acts with spoken dialogue; it was produced in Berlin on March 14, 1821. A comic opera, Die drei Pintos, which Weber started at about the same time, was left unfinished. After some revisions, Der Freischutz was accepted for performance at the opening of Berlin’s Neues Schauspielhaus. There arose an undercurrent of rivalry with Spontini, director of the Berlin Opera, a highly influential figure in operatic circles and at court. Spontini considered himself the guardian of the Italian-French tradition in opposition to the new German Romantic movement in music. Weber conducted the triumphant premiere of Der Freischutz on June 18,1821; the work’s success surpassed all expectations and the cause of new Romantic art was won. Der Freischutz was soon staged by all the major opera houses of Europe. In English, it was given first in London, on July 22, 1824; translations into other languages followed. Weber’s next opera was Euryanthe, produced in Vienna on Oct. 25, 1823, with only moderate success. Meanwhile, Weber’s health was affected by incipient tuberculosis and he was compelled to spend part of 1824 in Marienbad for a cure. He recovered sufficiently to begin the composition of Oberon, a commission from London’s Covent Garden. The English libretto was prepared by J. R. Planche, based on a translation of C. M. Wieland’s verse-romance of the same name. Once more illness interrupted Weber’s progress on his work; he spent part of the summer of 1825 in Ems to prepare himself for the journey to England. He set out for London in Feb. 1826, a dying man. On his arrival, he was housed with Sir George Smart, the conductor of the Phil. Soc. of London. Weber threw himself into his work, presiding over 16 rehearsals for Oberon. On April 12, 1826, he conducted its premiere at Covent Garden, obtaining a tremendous success. Despite his greatly weakened condition, he conducted 11 more performances of the score and also participated in various London concerts, playing for the last time a week before his death. He was found dead in his room on the morning of June 5,1826. He was buried in London. His remains were removed to Dresden in 1844. On Dec. 14, 1844, they were taken to the Catholic cemetery in Dresden to the accompaniment of funeral music arranged from motifs from Euryanthe for wind instruments as prepared and conducted by Wagner. The next day, Weber’s remains were interred as Wagner delivered an oration and conducted a chorus in his specially composed An Webers Grabe.

Weber’s role in music history is epoch-making. In his operas, particularly in Der Freischütz, he opened the era of musical Romanticism, in decisive opposition to the established Italianate style. The highly dramatic and poetic portrayal of a German fairy tale, with its aura of supernatural mystery, appealed to the public, whose imagination had been stirred by the emergent Romantic literature of the period. Weber’s melodic genius and mastery of the craft of composition made it possible for him to break with tradition and to start on a new path, at a critical time when individualism and nationalism began to emerge as sources of creative artistry. His instrumental works, too, possessed a new quality that signalized the transition from Classical to Romantic music. For piano he wrote pieces of extraordinary brilliance, introducing some novel elements in chord writing and passage work. He was an excellent pianist; his large hands gave him an unusual command of the keyboard (he could stretch the interval of a twelfth). Weber’s influence on the development of German music was very great. The evolutionary link to Wagner’s music drama is evident in the coloring of the orch. parts in Weber’s operas and in the adumbration of the principle of leading motifs. Finally, he was one of the first outstanding interpretative conducting podium figures.


In the list of Weber’s works that follows, his compositions are identified by the J. numbers established by F. Jahns in his Carl Maria von Weber in seinen Werken: Chronologischthematisches Verzeichniss seiner sämmtlichen Compositionen (Berlin, 1871). DRAMATIC: Opera : Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins, J. Anh. 6, Singspiel (1798; not perf.; not extant); Das Waldmädchen, J. Anh. 1, Romantic comic opera (Freiberg, Nov. 24, 1800; only fragments extant); Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, J.8 (1801-02; Augsburg, March 1803?; music not extant, dialogue lost); Rübezahl, J.44-6 (1804-05; unfinished; only 3 numbers extant); Silvana, J.87, Romantic opera (1808-10; Frankfurt am Main, Sept. 16, 1810, composer conducting); Abu Hassan, J.106, Singspiel (1810-11; Munich, June 4, 1811, composer conducting); Der Freischütz, }277, Romantic opera (1817-21; Berlin, June 18, 1821, composer conducting); Die drei Pintos, J. Anh. 5, comic opera (begun in 1820; unfinished; libretto rev. by the composer’s grandson, Carl von Weber, and Gustav Mahler; extant music completed by adding other works by the composer, with scoring by Mahler; Leipzig, Jan. 20,1888, Mahler conducting); Euryanthe, J.291, grand heroic Romantic opera (1822-23; Vienna, Oct. 25, 1823, composer conducting); Oberon, or The Elf King’s Oath, J.306, Romantic opera (1825-26; London, April 12, 1826, composer conducting). Other: Overture and 6 numbers for Schiller’s tr. of Gozzi’s Turandot, Prinzessin von China, J.75 (Stuttgart, Sept. 1809); Rondo alia polacca for Tenor for Haydn’s pasticchio Der Freibrief, ].77 (1809); Duet for Soprano and Tenor for Haydn’s Der Freibrief, J.78 (1809); 4 songs for Voice and Guitar (one with Men’s Chorus) for Kotzebue’s Der arme Minnesinger, J.110-13 (1811); Scena ed aria for Soprano for Méhul’s opera Helena, J.178 (1815); 2 songs for Baritone and for Soprano and Bass for Fischer’s Singspiel Der travestirte Aeneas, J.183-84 (1815); 2 songs for Baritone and for Tenor for Gubitz’s festspiel Lieb’ und Versöhnen, J.186-87 (1815); Ballade for Baritone and Harp for Reinbeck’s Gordon und Montrose, J.189 (1815); Arietta for Soprano for Huber’s and Kauer’s Das Sternenmädchen im Maidlinger Walde, J.194 (1816; text not extant); Romance for Voice and Guitar for Castelli’s Diana von Poitiers, J.195 (1816); 10 numbers and 1 song for Unaccompanied Mezzo-soprano for Müllner’s König Yngurd, J.214 (Dresden, April 14, 1817); 6 numbers for Moreto’s Donna Diana, J.220 (1817); Song for Solo Voices and Chorus for Kind’s Der Weinberg an der Elbe, J.222 (1817); Romance for Voice and Guitar for Kind’s Das Nachtlager von Granada, J.223 (1818); 2-part song for Tenor and Bass for Holbein’s Die drei Wahrzeichen, J.225 (1818); Dance and song for Tenor and Chorus for Hell’s Das Haus Anglade, J.227 (1818; may not be by Weber); 8 numbers for Gehe’s Heinrich IV, König von Frankreich, J.237 (Dresden, June 6, 1818); Scena ed aria for Soprano for Cherubi-ni’s opera Lodoiska, J.239 (1818); Chorus for 2 Sopranos and Bass for Grillparzer’s Sappho, J.240 (1818); Song for Voice and Piano or Guitar for Kind’s Der Abend am Waldbrunnen, J.243 (1818); 4 vocal numbers, march, and melodrama for Rublack’s Leib’ um Liebe, J.246 (1818); Agnus Dei for 2 Sopranos, Alto, and Wind Instruments for Blankensee’s Carlo, ].273 (1820); 4 harp numbers for Houwald’s Der Leuchtturm, J.276 (Dresden, April 26, 1820); Overture and 11 numbers to Wolff’s Preciosa, J.279 (Berlin, March 14,1821); Song for 2 Sopranos, Alto, Chorus, and Guitar for Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, J.280 (1821); one instrumental number (from the adagio of the Sym. No. 1 in C major, J.50) and 5 choruses for Robert’s Den Sachsensohn vermählet heute, J.289 (1822); Arioso and recitative for Bass and Soprano for Spontini’s opera Olympie, J.305 (1825). ORCH.: Romanza Siciliana in G minor for Flute and Orch., J.47 (1805); Horn Concertino in E minor, J.188 (1806; not extant; 2nd ver., 1815); 6 Variations on “A Schüsserl und a Reind’rl” in C major for Viola and Orch., J.49 (1806); 2 syms.: No. 1 in C major, J.50 (1807) and No. 2 in C major, J.51 (1807); Grande Ouverture à plusiers instruments, J.54 (rev. overture to Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, J.8; 1807); Grand Pot-Pourri for Cello and Orch., J.64 (1808); Andante e Rondo Ungarese in C minor for Viola and Orch., J.79 (1809); Variations in F major for Cello and Orch., J.94 (1810); 2 piano concertos: No. 1 in C Major, J.98 (1810) and No. 2 in E-flat major, J.155 (Gotha, Dec. 17, 1812, composer soloist); Clarinet Concertino in E-flat major, J.109 (1811); 2 clarinet concertos: No. 1 in F minor, J.114 (1811) and No. 2 in E-flat major, J.118 (1811) Adagio und Rondo in F Major for Harmoni-chord and Orch., J.115 (1811); Bassoon Concerto in F major, J.127 (1811; 1st confirmed perf., Prague, Feb. 19, 1813; rev. 1822); Der Beherrscher der Geister, overture, J.122 (rev. of the lost Rübezahl overture; 1811); Andante e Rondo Ungarese in C minor for Bassoon and Orch., J.158 (rev. of J.79; 1813); Deutscher (Original-Walzer) in D major, J.185 (orch. arr. of a song in Fischer’s Singspiel, Der travestirte Aeneas, J.183-84; 1815); Tedesco in D major, J.191 (1816); Jubel-Ouvertüre in E major, J.245 (1818); Konzertstück in F minor for Piano and Orch., J.282 (1821). Wind Instruments: Tusch for 20 Trumpets, J.47a (1806); Waltz for Flute, 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, Trumpet, and 2 Bassoons, J.149 (1812); Marcia vivace for 10 Trumpets, J.288 (1822); March for Wind Band, J.307 (also arr. for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch.; rev. of No. 5 of Six Petites Pièces Faciles, J.13; 1826). CHAMBER: Neuf variations sur un air norvégien for Violin and Piano, J.61 (1808); Piano Quartet in B-flat major, J.76 (1809); Six sonates progressives for Violin and Piano, J.99-104 (1810); Melody in F major for Clarinet, J.119 (1811); SevenVariations on a Theme from Silvana for Clarinet and Piano, J.128 (1811); Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major, J.182 (1815); Grand Duo Concertant for Piano and Clarinet, J.204 (1815-16); Divertimento assai facile for Guitar and Piano, J.207 (1816); Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano, J.259 (1819). Piano S o 1 o : Sechs Fughetten, J.l-6 (1798); Six Variations on an Original Theme, J.7 (1800); Douze Allemandes, J. 15-26 (1801); Sechs Ecossaisen, J.29-34 (1802); Huit Variations Sur L’air De Ballet De Castor Et Pollux From Vogler’s Opera, J.40 (1804); Six Variations Sur L’air De Naga “Woher Mag Dies Wohl Kommen?” From Vogler’s Opera Samori, with Violin and Cello Ad Libitum, J.43 (1804); Sept Variations Sur L’air “Vien Qua, Dorina Bella” By Bianchi, J.53 (1807); Theme Original Varié (7 Variations), J.55 (1808); Momento Capriccioso in B-flat Major, J.56 (1808); Grande Polonaise in E-flat Major, J.59 (1808); 4 Sonatas: No. 1 in C Major, J.138 (1812), No. 2 in A-flat Major, J.199 (1816), No. 3 in D Minor, J.206 (1816), and No. 4 in E Minor, J.287 (1822); 7 Variations on “A Peine Au Sortir De L’enfance” From Méhul’s Opera Joseph, J.141 (1812); Sechs Favorit-walzer Der Kaiserin Von Frankreich, Marie Louise, J.143-48 (1812); Air Russe (“Schöne Minka”) (9 Variations), J.179 (1815); Sieben Variationen über Ein Zigeunerlied, J.219 (1817); Rondo Brillante (“La Gaité”) in E-flat Major, J.252 (1819); Aufforderung Zum Tanze: Rondo Brillant in D-flat Major, J.260 (1819); Polacca Brillante (“L’hilarité”) in E Major, J.268 (1819). DUET :Six petites pièces faciles, J.9-14 (1801); Six pièces, J.81-86 (1809); Huit pièces, J.236, 242, 248, 253-54, 264-66 (1818-19). VOCAL: Concert Arias: “II momento s’avvicina,” recitative and rondo for Soprano and Orch., J.93 (1810); “Misera me!,” scena ed aria for Soprano and Orch. for Atedia J.121 (1811); “Qual altro attendi,” scena ed aria for Tenor, Chorus, and Orch., J.126 (1812); “Signor, se padre sei,” scena ed aria for Tenor, Choruses, and Orch. for Ines de Castro, J.142 (1812); “Non paventar mia vita,” scena ed aria for Soprano and Orch. for Ines de Castro, J.181 (1815). Masses : Mass in E-flat major for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, Organ, and Orch., J. Anh. 8 (1802); Mass in E-flat major for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., J.224, “Missa Sancta No. 1” (1817-18); Offertory, “Gloria et honore,” for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch., for the Missa Sancta No. 1, J.226 (1818); Offertory, “In die solemnitatis,” for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch., for the Missa Sancta No. 2, J.250 (1818); Mass in G major for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch., J.251, “Missa Sancta No. 2” or “Jubelmesse” (1818-19). Cantatas : Der erste Ton for Reciter and Orch., with closing chorus, J.58 (1808; rev. 1810); In seiner Ordnung schafft der Herr, hymn for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch., J.154 (1812); Kampf und Sieg for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch., J.190 (concerning the battle of Waterloo; 1815); L’Accoglienza for 3 Sopranos, Tenor, 2 Basses, Chorus, and Orch., J.221 (1817); Jubel-Cantate for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch., J.224 (1818); Du, bekränzend unsre Laren for 2 Sopranos, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, Piano, and Flute, J.283 (1821); Wo nehm ich Blumen her for Soprano, Tenor, Bass, and Piano, J. 290 (1823). Other: Many other choral works and part songs, including Trauer- Musik for Baritone, Choir, and 10 Wind Instruments, J.116 (1811); Das Turnierbankett for 2 Tenors, Bass, and 2 Men’s Choruses, J.132 (1812); Schwabisches Tanzlied for Soprano, 2 Tenors, 2 Basses, and Piano, J.135 (1812); Kriegs-Eid for Unison Men’s Voices and 7 Instruments, J.139 (1812); Leyer und Schwert, 6 songs for 4 Men’s Voices, J.168-73 (1814); Natur und Liebe for 2 Sopranos, 2 Tenors, 2 Basses, and Piano, J.241 (1818); also canons for 3 or 4 Voices; more than 80 songs; 6 vocal duets; Zehn schottische Nationalge-sange, arrangements for Voice with accompaniments for Flute, Violin, Cello, and Piano, J.295-304 (1825).


Weber’s critical writings on music are valuable. He also left an autobiographical sketch, an unfinished novel, poems, etc. Editions of his writings include T. Hell, ed., Hinterlassene Schriften von CM. v.W.(3 vols., Dresden and Leipzig, 1828; 2nd ed., 1850); G. Kaiser, ed., Sämtliche Schriften von CM. v.W.: Kritische Ausgabe (Berlin and Leipzig, 1908); W. Altmann, ed., W.s ausgewählte Schriften (Regensburg, 1928); K. Laux, ed., CM. v.W.: Kunstansichten (Leipzig, 1969; 2nd ed., 1975); J. Warrack, ed., and M. Cooper, tr., CM. v.W.: Writings on Music (Cambridge, 1982).


collected works, source material: There is no complete ed. of Weber’s works. A projected collected ed., CM. v.W.: Musikalische Werke: Erste kritische Gesamtausgabe, under the general editorship of H.J. Moser, was abandoned with the outbreak of World War II; only 3 vols, were publ. (Vol. II/l, Augsburg, 1926; Vol. II/2, Augsburg, 1928; Vol. II/3, Braunschweig, 1939). Previously unpubl. works are found in L. Hirschberg, ed., Reliquienschrein des Meisters CM. v.W.(Berlin, 1927). The standard thematic catalogue was prepared by F. Jahns, CM. v.W in seinen Werken: Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichniss seiner sämmtlichen Compositionen (Berlin, 1871). See also the vols, by H. Dunnebeil, CM. v.W.: Verzeichnis seiner Kompositionen (Berlin, 1942; 2nd ed., 1947) and Schrifttum über CM. v.W.(Berlin, 1947; 4th ed., 1957), D. and A. Henderson, CM. v.W.: A Guide to Research (N.Y., 1989), and G. Allroggen and J. Veit, eds., W.-Studien (Mainz, 1993 et seq.). CORRESPONDENCE: C. von Weber (grandson of the composer), ed., Reise-Briefe von CM. v.W. an seine Gattin Carolina (Leipzig, 1886); E. Rudorff, Briefe von CM. v.W. an Hinrich Lichtenstein (Braunschweig, 1900); G. Kaiser, ed., W.s Briefe an den Grafen Karl von Brühl (Leipzig, 1911); L. Hirschberg, ed., Siebenundsiebzig bisher ungedruckte Briefe CM. v.W.s (Hildburghausen, 1926); H. Worbs, ed., CM. v. W. Briefe (Frankfurt am Main, 1982). BIOGRAPHICAL: W. Neumann, W.: Eine Biographie (Kassel, 1855); M. von Weber (son of the composer), CM. v.W.: Ein Lebensbild (3 vols., Leipzig, 1864-66; abr. Eng. tr. by J. Simpson as W.: The Life of an Artist, 2 vols., London, 1865; 2nd Ger. ed., abr., by R. Pechel, Berlin, 1912); F. Jahns, CM. v.W.: Eine Lebensskizze nach authentischen Quellen (Leipzig, 1873); J. Benedict, W.(London and N.Y., 1881; 5th ed., 1899); L. Nohl, W.(Leipzig, 1883); A. Reissmann, W.: Sein Leben und seine Werke (Berlin, 1886); H. Gehrmann, CM. v.W.(Berlin, 1899); G. Servières, W. (Paris, 1906; new ed., 1925); H. von der Pfordten, W.(Leipzig, 1919); A. Cceuroy, W.(Paris, 1925; 2nd ed., 1953); E. Kroll, CM. v.W.(Potsdam, 1934); W Saunders, W.(London and N.Y., 1940); L. and R. Stebbins, Enchanted Wanderer: The Life of CM. v.W.(N.Y., 1940); H. Moser, CM. v.W.: Leben und Werk (Leipzig, 1941; 2nd ed., 1955); P. Raabe, Wege zu W.(Regensburg, 1942); W Zentner, CM. v.W.: Sein Leben und sein Schaffen (Ölten, 1952); H. Schnoor, W.: Gestalt und Schöpfung (Dresden, 1953); F. Gruniger, CM. v.W.: Leben und Werk (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1954); K. Laux, CM. v.W.(Leipzig, 1966; 2nd ed., 1986); J. Warrack, CM. v.W.(N.Y. and London, 1968; 2nd ed., 1976); D. Hartwig, CM. v.W.(Leipzig, 1986); K. Höcker, Obérons Horn: Das Leben von CM. v.W.(Berlin, 1986); H. Hoffmann, CM. v.W.: Biographie eines realis-tichen Romantikers (Düsseldorf, 1986). WEBER AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES: H. Krüger, Pseudoromantik, Friedrich Kind und der Dresdener Liederkreis (Leipzig, 1904); H. and C. Cox, eds., Leaves from the Journals of Sir George Smart (London, 1907). CRITICAL, ANALYTICAL: F. Kind, Freischütz-Buch (Leipzig, 1843); R. Wagner: articles on W in his Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen (Vol. I, Leipzig, 1871; Eng. tr. by W. Ashton Ellis as The Prose Works of Richard Wagner, Vol. VII, London, 1898); A. Jullien, W. à Paris en 1826 (Paris, 1877); G. Kaiser, Beiträge zu einer Charakteristik W.s als Musikschriftsteller (Leipzig, 1910); W. Georgii, CM. v.W. als Klavierkomponist (diss., Univ. of Halle, 1914); E. Hasselberg, ed., Der Freischütz: Friedrich Kinds Operndichtung und ihre Quellen (Berlin, 1921); M. Degen, Die Lieder von CM. v.W.(Freiburg im Breisgau, 1923); E. Reiter, W.s künstlerische Persönlichkeit aus seinen Schriften (Leipzig, 1926); A. Sandt, W.s Opern in ihrer Instrumentation (Frankfurt am Main, 1932); P. Listi, C.M. v.W. als Ouverturenkomponist (diss., Univ. of Würzburg, 1936); H. Schnoor, W. auf dem Welttheater: Ein Freischützbuch (Dresden, 1942; 4th ed., 1963); G. Jones, Backgrounds and Themes of the Operas of CM. v.W.(diss., Cornell Univ., 1972); M. Tusa, Euryanthe and CM. v.W/s Dramaturgy of German Opera (Oxford, 1991); E Heidlberger, CM. v. W. und hector Berlioz: Studien zur französischen W.-Rezeption (Tutzing, 1994); W. Wagner, CM. v. W. und die deutsche Nationalopera (Mainz, 1994); C. Schneider, W. (1786-1826) (Paris, 1998). Miscellaneous: F. Rapp, Ein unbekanntes Bildnis W.s (Stuttgart, 1937); G. Hausswald, ed., CM. v.W.: eine Gedenkschrift (Dresden, 1951).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Weber, Carl Maria (Friedrich Ernst) von

views updated May 21 2018

Weber, Carl Maria (Friedrich Ernst) von (b Eutin in Oldenburg, 1786; d London, 1826). Ger. composer, conductor, and pianist. Son of town musician and theatrical impresario and his 2nd wife, a singer and actress. Taught as boy by Michael Haydn in Salzburg, then by court organist, Kalcher, in Munich 1798–1800. By 1800 had already composed opera, mass, and pf. works. Went to Vienna in 1803 as pupil of Vogler, through whose influence became Kapellmeister at Breslau municipal th. 1804–6. Worked in Karlsruhe 1806–7, where he wrote 2 syms. Court secretarial post Stuttgart 1807–10, where he was encouraged by Kapellmeister, Danzi. While there wrote incidental mus. to Turandot, opera Silvana, and other works. Banished from Stuttgart because of false suspicion of embezzlement, went to Mannheim, where he was befriended by Gottfried Weber (no relation), then to Darmstadt, where he met Vogler again and took lessons from him in company with Meyerbeer. At this time wrote comic opera Abu Hassan, pf. conc., and vn. sonatas. Travelled to Munich 1811, where he wrote bn. conc. for court wind-player, and to Prague, where his pf. improvisations were acclaimed. Appointed dir., Prague Opera, 1813–16. Court Kapellmeister, Dresden, 1817, with commission to est. Ger. opera alongside It. variety. Wrote Mass in E♭ 1818 and worked on opera Der Freischütz. Work continually frustrated by opposition from It. opera dir., Morlacchi. Weber rehearsed operas exhaustively, making himself responsible for every aspect of prods., and, in his operatic theories, anticipating those of his disciple Wagner. Der Freischütz was prod. in Berlin, to tumultuous acclaim, in 1821 and was taken up throughout Ger., making Weber the most popular composer of the day. At the same time, he was at work on a comic opera Die drei Pintos, which he never finished and which was subsequently prepared for perf. by Mahler. He interrupted work on it to compose an opera commissioned by the Vienna Kärntnerthor Th. for 1822–3 season. This was Euryanthe, prod. Vienna, Oct. 1823. While in Vienna, Weber met Beethoven, with whom he had been in correspondence. By now, Weber's health was seriously undermined by tuberculosis. In 1824, the manager of CG, Kemble, commissioned an opera from Weber, who agreed to set Planché's Eng. lib. Oberon. Went to London 1826, staying with Sir George Smart in Great Portland St., supervising rehearsals at CG and conducting several concerts. After Oberon première, became increasingly ill and died 7 weeks later in Smart's house. Body taken to Moorfields Chapel. In 1844, on instigation of the Dresden Kapellmeister Richard Wagner, coffin was shipped back to Ger. and buried in Dresden Catholic cemetery on 15 Dec. after funeral oration by Wagner and the perf. of Wagner's Hebt an den Sang (An Webers Grabe) for unacc. male ch.

Weber's place in history of Ger. mus. is that of a liberator, setting it free from It. influences and showing how the shape of folk tunes could be adapted for operatic and other purposes. Marschner and Lortzing were his immediate successors, Wagner his culmination. In his instr. and vocal works, his virtuosity, startling effects achieved without use of unusual instrs., and formal and technical innovations stimulated Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz, and in due course Mahler. According to Debussy, the sound of the Weber orch. was achieved by ‘scrutiny of the soul of each instrument’. Though handicapped by the weakest of libs. (by the eccentric poetess Helmina von Chézy), Euryanthe contains mus. of outstanding subtlety and strength; while the powerful atmospheric spell of the ‘nature’ mus. in Freischütz is created by the poetic establishment of a mood. For some time Weber was regarded as more important as an influence on others than for his own achievement. Today his rightful place as a master is acknowledged. Prin. works:OPERAS: Das Waldmädchen (1800); Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn (1801–2); Rübezahl (1804–5); Silvana (1808–10); Abu Hassan (1810–11); Der Freischütz (1817–21); Euryanthe (1822–3); Die drei Pintos (begun 1820); Oberon (1825–6).THEATRE MUSIC: Ov. and 6 nos. for Turandot (1809); Ov. and 11 nos. for Preciosa (1820); and many other items for plays.CHURCH MUSIC: Mass in E♭ (Grosse Jugendmesse) (1802); Mass in E♭ (1818); Mass in G (1819).CHORAL: Der erste Ton, reciter, ch., orch. (1808); Kampf und Sieg, SATB soloists, ch., orch. (1815); Jubel-Kantate, SATB soloists, ch., orch. (1818).ORCH.: syms: No.1 in C (1807), No.2 in C (1807); ov., The Ruler of the Spirits (Der Beherrscher der Geister) (1811); Jubel-Ouvertüre (Jubilee Overture) (1818); Andante und Rondo Ungarese, va., orch. (1809, rev. for bn. 1813); pf. concs: No.1 in C (1810), No.2 in E♭ (1812); Konzertstück in F minor, pf. (1821); cl. concertino (1811); cl. concs.: No.1 in F minor (1811), No.2 in E♭ (1811); bn. conc. in F (1811, rev. 1822); hn. concertino (1815); Romanza Siciliana, fl., orch. (1805); Grand Potpourri, vc., orch. (1808).CHAMBER MUSIC: pf. qt. (1809); cl. quintet (1815); trio, fl., vc., pf. (1819); 6 Progressive Sonatas, vn., pf. (1810); Grand Duo Concertant in E♭, pf., cl. (1816); Divertimento, gui., pf. (1816).PIANO: 6 Variations on Original Theme (1800); 12 Allemandes (1801); Écossaises (1802); 7 Variations on Original Theme (1808); Momento capriccioso (1808); Grande Polonaise (1808); sonatas: No.1 in C (1812), No.2 in A♭ (1816), No.3 in D minor (1816), No.4 in E minor (1822); 7 Variations on a Theme from Méhul's Joseph (1812); 7 Variations on a Gipsy Song (1817); Rondo brillante (1819); Invitation to the Dance (Aufforderung zum Tanz) (1819); Polacca brillante (1819).PIANO DUETS: 6 Petites pièces faciles (1801); 6 Pieces (1809); 8 Pieces (1818–19).SONGS (a selection of Weber's many songs): Wiedersehn (1804); Serenade (1809); Trinklied (1809); Wiegenlied (1810); Leyer und Schwerdt (Lyre and Sword) Vol. I, 4 songs (1814), Vol. II, 6 songs for 4 male vv. (1814), Vol. III (1816); Die Temperamente beim Verluste der Geliebten (1816); Elfenlied (1819); Das Licht im Thale (1822); also many canons and part-songs.ARRS.: God Save the King, 3 versions, for male vv. (?1818), male vv. (?1818), and SATB and wind (1819); 10 Scottish National Songs, v. with fl., vn., vc., pf.

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber

views updated May 17 2018

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber

The operas of Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (1786-1826) are the cornerstone of the German romantic opera, and he is often heralded as the father of musical romanticism.

The son of an itinerant musical family, Carl Maria von Weber was born on Dec. 18, 1786, near Lübeck, where his father was a town musician and his mother a singer. The family was distantly connected with Constanze Weber Mozart's family. There was no justification for the claim of nobility or the use of the "von." Weber spent his early years in nearly constant travel. His father, an unscrupulous eccentric, attempted to turn him into a prodigy, but young Weber was unable to live up to these expectations.

In 1796 the family settled temporarily in Salzburg, where Weber entered the school for choristers directed by Michael Haydn. Two years later Weber's mother died, and his father resumed his itinerant existence, carrying his son first to Vienna and then to Munich, where the boy again formally studied music. In 1800 he composed his first opera, Die Macht von Liebe (The Power of Love), a piano sonata, some variations for piano, and several songs, all highly amateurish.

In 1801 Weber and his father returned to Salzburg, where Weber resumed his study with Michael Haydn. Beginning in 1804 Weber studied off and on over the next few years with Georg Vogler.

During this time the handsome young Weber managed to survive on his wits, charm, and ability to manipulate people and circumstances. He was involved in various court imbroglios and intrigues through his own culpability, to say nothing of his father's notoriously disreputable behavior. The turning point in Weber's career seems to have taken place when he was arrested and eventually banished from Stuttgart as a result of an unsavory scandal concerning a possible charge of bribery in connection with the court. Although proved innocent of this charge, he was shaken enough, it seems, to settle down and become seriously concerned with establishing himself as a performer and composer.

Weber traveled extensively throughout Germany and Austria, playing his own compositions and composing. In 1813 he became an opera conductor in Prague. The following year he fell in love with Caroline Brandt, a singer in his company, whom he married in 1817, a year after he had been appointed conductor of German opera in Dresden. He served in this post and remained active in the city's musical life until his untimely death.

Creation of the German Romantic Opera

Weber's vast and varied theatrical experience in the provincial opera houses of central Europe bore fruit in Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter), produced in Berlin in 1821. Composed to a libretto by Friedrich Kind and heavily indebted to folk superstition and sentimentalized medieval German history, the opera was an enormous success. In this one composition Weber succeeded in creating a prototype for the German romantic opera which he himself was unable to equal.

In 1824 Weber's second major opera, Euryanthe, with a libretto by Helmine von Chézy, was produced in Dresden. Overly complicated and without the instant popular appeal of Freischütz, Euryanthe did not live up to expectations. That year Weber received an offer to go to London to prepare an English opera based on C. M. Wieland's Oberon. Although seriously ill, Weber agreed to undertake this work since he was financially straitened. He left for England in 1825 to supervise the performances of Oberon, which was a great success. He died in London on June 5, 1826, of tuberculosis.

Other Works

Weber was a prolific composer in many forms. In addition to his piano music—several sonatas, variations, two concertos, and the fanciful Konzertstück—his production includes symphonies, chamber music, vocal works, and two clarinet concertos. His major accomplishment, however, was to create the first great popular success for German romantic opera. The folklike quality of much of his vocal writing has ensured his popularity in Germany, but elsewhere he is a composer more honored by name than in performance. The overtures of his three major operas have long been repertoire items in the concert hall, but the operas themselves deserve to be better known. Weber was also a respectable prose writer, especially of music criticism, thus proving himself to be entirely in keeping with 19th-century romantic aspirations.

Further Reading

Good biographies of Weber are William Saunders, Weber (1940), and Lucy and Richard Poate Stebbins, The Enchanted Wanderer: The Life of Carl Maria von Weber (1940). His operas are examined in Donald J. Grout, A Short History of the Opera (1947; rev. ed. 1965).

Additional Sources

Benedict, Julius, Sir, Carl Maria von Weber, New York: AMS Press, 1980.

Friese-Greene, Anthony, Weber, London; New York: Omnibus, 1991.

Warrack, John Hamilton, Carl Maria von Weber, Cambridge, Eng.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

Warrack, John Hamilton, The New Grove early romantic masters 2: Weber, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, New York: Norton, 1985. □

Weber, Carl Maria von

views updated Jun 27 2018

Weber, Carl Maria von (1786–1826) German composer, conductor, and pianist. He helped to establish a German national style in his operas Der Freischütz (1821) and Euryanthe (1823). He also composed piano and chamber music, concertos and the popular Invitation to the Dance (1819).

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Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber

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