Ten years younger than Constable, Carl Maria von Weber established himself as a leading composer and through his operas influenced later Romantic composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn.
Weber was born into a musical family. His father, Franz Anton, managed a theatre company, and his mother, Genovefa, was a singer. His father, recognised his son’s talents and made sure he received the best available instruction in violin and piano, as well as tutelage in composition and harmony with Michael Haydn (Joseph Haydn’s brother).
Weber was a composer, piano virtuoso, orchestrator, music critic and opera director. He helped establish the German Romantic and nationalist movements and figures prominently as the musician who established a German opera in his native land and successfully broke the chains of Italian traditions in a variety of ways:
- use of spoken dialogue in place of the Italian recitative
- use of German myths and folklore, with an emphasis on nature, for the subjects of his operas
- use of the instruments of the orchestra, rather than just voices, to tell the story. Folklore and Myths
Weber used poetry, history, folklore, and myths for inspiration and strove to create a convincing synthesis between fantastic literature and music. His most famous opera, Der Freischütz, is based on a fairy story and concerns a hunter who, in order to marry the girl he loves, becomes a pawn in a bargain with the devil so that he wins a shooting contest
End of Life
Travelling to London in 1826 for the opening of his opera, Oberon, Weber witnessed the production’s success but unfortunately became ill and died from tuberculosis – he was aged 40. Buried in London to the strains of Mozart’s Requiem, his body was exhumed 1884 and returned to Dresden.
Click the tab marked ‘video’ above Weber’s portrait at the top of this page to hear:
- Oberon – Overture
- Der Frieschutz (The Free Shooter) – Hunters Chorus
- Clarinet Concerto Number One played by Sabine Meyer