Weber, Carl Maria von
WEBER, CARL MARIA VON
Founder of German romantic opera; b. Eutin (near Lübeck), Germany, Nov. 18, 1786; d. London, June 5, 1826. He was a son of Franz Anton von Weber, an unstable musician with a spurious claim to noble rank, and his second wife Genofeva von Brenner, a talented singer with whom he led an itinerant theatrical troupe. His father, determined to produce a child prodigy such as his nephew mozart, taught him piano and voice, but Carl's genius unfolded at its own tempo under professional training in several towns, including Salzburg, where he studied briefly with M. haydn, and Vienna, where at 17 he came under the intensive tutelage of G. J. Vogler. From then until he became, at 30, conductor of German opera at the Dresden court and married the singer Caroline Brandt, his career was one of harrowing frustration but also one of solid creative growth toward his ideal of a national operatic style, realized in 1821 with the opera Der Freischütz. This work synthesized the finest aspirations of the German folk soul in music of universal charm, shattered the monopoly of Italian opera, and provided a starting point for Richard wagner and the opera of the future. Besides nine other operas (notably, Euryanthe and Oberon ), Weber composed many ingratiating concert works, as well as three Masses and two Offertoria in his floridly romantic, hence liturgically inappropriate, vein. A self-schooled thinker and writer, he also published a quantity of serious music criticism. He kept the Catholic faith of his fathers, which sustained him in adversity if it played little part in his artistic development. After his lonely death, his body was interred at Moor-fields Chapel (St. Mary's Catholic church), London, but was reinterred in 1844, with much pomp and a peroration and choral composition by Wagner, in the Inner Catholic Cemetery, Dresden.
Bibliography: Musikalische Werke, ed. h. j. moser (Augsburg 1926–); Sämtliche Schriften, ed. g. kaiser (Berlin 1908); Ein Brevier, ed. h. dÜnnebeil (Berlin 1949); Ausgewählte Schriften, ed. w. altmann (Regensburg 1937). o. strunk, ed., Source Readings in Music History (New York 1950) 802–807. m. m. von weber, Carl Maria von Weber, 3 v. (Leipzig 1864–66), new ed. by r. pechel (Berlin 1912); unsatisfactory adaptation by j. p. simpson, The Life of an Artist, 2 v. (Boston 1865). e. kroll, Weber (Potsdam 1934). h. allekotte, C. M. v. Webers Messen (Bonn 1913). l. p. and r. p. stebbins, Enchanted Wanderer (New York 1940), original research, with exhaustive bibliog. a. a. abert et al., Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) v.13 (in press). p. spitta, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 9:195–222. k. g. fellerer, The History of Catholic Church Music, tr. f. a. brunner (Baltimore 1961). d. j. grout, A Short History of Opera, 2 v. (2d, rev. and enl. ed. New York 1965). m. s. cole, "Der Freischütz, " In International Dictionary of Opera 2 v., ed. c. s. larue, (Detroit 1993) 466-468. k. ditzler, "The Motif of the Forest in Weber's Silvana and Der Freischütz, " The Opera Journal 31/2 and 3 (1998) 35–49. m. f. doerner, "German Romantic Opera? A Critical Reappraisal of Undine and Der Freischütz, " The Opera Quarterly 10/2 (1993/1994) 10–26. n. gubkina, "Carl Maria von Webers Waldmädchen: Ein wiedergefundenes Jugendwerk," Die Musikforschung 53 (2000) 57–59. c. headington, "Oberon " in International Dictionary of Opera 2 v., ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993) 950; "Euryanthe " in International Dictionary of Opera 2 v., ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993) 399–400. a. houtchens, "Carl Maria von Weber in Mozart's Prague," The Opera Journal 27/2 (1994) 2–11.
[m. e. evans]