Carl Maria Von Weber

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Weber, Carl Maria Von


Born Nov. 18 or 19, 1786, in Eutin; died June 5, 1826, in London. German composer, conductor, pianist, and writer on music. Originator of German romantic opera.

Weber was born into the family of a musician and theatrical entrepreneur. His childhood and youth were spent in travels to various German cities with his father’s small theatrical troupe. Weber received neither a general nor a systematic musical education. The music lessons that he took from G. Vogler, M. Haydn, and others promoted the development of his gift for performance and composition. At age 17, Weber gave piano concerts and composed three operas (Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins, Das Waldmädchen, and Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn). From 1804, Weber worked as a conductor in opera theaters (Breslau, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin). During 1813-17 he was head of the opera theater in Prague. From 1817 until his death he was director of the German music theater in Dresden.

Weber’s musical career coincided with the national and social upsurge that began in Germany after the Peace of Tilsit (1807). This determined the world view and direction of Weber’s work and shaped his progressive aesthetic views. In the operas he wrote during these years (Rübezahl, 1805; Silvana, 1810; and Abu Hassan, 1811) new stylistic characteristics were formed, including an interest in everyday folk subjects and fairy-tale plots, a link with musical folklore, and oriental musical color. An important landmark in Weber’s creative development was the year 1814: during the celebration of the victory over Napoleon in Germany and in an atmosphere of rising nationalistic feelings Weber’s songs appeared, imbued with the ideas of the struggle for liberation. (The songs were based on poems by T. Körner.) The collection Leyer und Schwert, as well as the heroic patriotic cantata Kampf und Sieg (1815), with a text by Wohlbrück, brought renown to Weber in Germany.

The summit of Weber’s creative work and his most popular composition is the opera Der Freischütz, produced in Berlin in 1821 under the composer’s direction. From this time there began an intensive development of German romantic opera, with its typical blending of everyday reality and the fantastic. Reflected in Der Freischütz were a folklore plot, vivid scenes from the daily lives of peasants and hunters, and poetic images of nature. Weber based this opera on folk music and made extensive use of common genres (waltzes, marches, and various folk song forms). The opera is also distinguished by general romantic color, innovation in the means of musical harmony and in timbre colors, the active role played by leitmotvis, and a strengthening of the orchestra’s importance. Weber not only summed up the endeavors of the composers of the early period in the development of musical romanticism (E. T. A. Hoffmann, L. Spohr) but also prepared the way with his creative work for the principles of Wagner’s musical dramaturgy. Weber’s opera Euryanthe (staged in Vienna in 1823 under the composer’s direction) reinforced the new type of multilevel, historical-legendary, chivalrous opera. Weber’s last opera, Oberon (staged in London in 1826 under the composer’s direction), is a fairy-tale romantic opera with its bright world of supernatural images drawn from folklore.

Weber also wrote an unfinished opera entitled Die drei Pintos (1821, completed by Mahler in 1888), music for seven dramatic plays, including Schiller’s Turandot and Wolffs Preciosa (1820), as well as a large number of choral, solo, and ensemble vocal works. In the field of instrumental music Weber is best known for his concerti for wind instruments and orchestra (three for clarinet, one for bassoon, and one for French horn). His piano piece Invitation to the Dance (1819), arranged for orchestra by Berlioz (1841), and his Konzertstück for piano and orchestra (1821) played an important role in the development of instrumental program music and new concert forms based on everyday dance music (the waltz). Weber wrote music criticism and literary works, including an unfinished novel entitled A Musician’s Life.


Ferman, V. Opernyi teatr. Moscow, 1961.
Khokhlovkina, A. Zapadnoevropeiskaia opera. Moscow, 1962.
Kenigsberg, A. Karl-Maria Veber. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Laux, K. C. M. von Weber. Leipzig, 1966.
Moser, H. J. C. M. von Weber: Leben und Werk, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1955.

S. N. PITINA [4-102«]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(7) Carl Maria von Weber: ein Lebensbild, Volume 3, p.
It was the only piece Carl Maria von Weber wrote for that instrument, completed in 1811 and first published in 1861.
The evening will begin with Paul Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphoses on themes of Carl Maria von Weber (1943), a neo-classical impression of the work of the nineteenth century master.
The familiar storyline has been adapted by many, including 19th-century opera composer Carl Maria von Weber and author Thomas De Quincy.
And while Duncker's initial novel incorporates some ideas of the French philosopher Michel Foucault, the third is a turbid and sometimes turgid melting pot of Freud's analysis of the Wolf Man, the tale of Oedipus, Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz, the autobiography of Patricia Beer, and especially Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
But in due time upstarts like John Gay in England and Carl Maria von Weber in Germany revolted.
The first theatre was built in 1755 and in the early 19th century Carl Maria von Weber - composer of Der Freischutz - was the artistic director.
2 See John Warrack's account of the work along these lines in Carl Maria von Weber, 2nd edn., Cambridge, 1976, pp.
Based loosely on the German folk tale that inspired Carl Maria von Weber's 1821 opera Der Freischutz (The free-shooter)--the story of a simple clerk, Wilhelm, who must learn how to shoot (he doesn't want to) in order to marry his sweetheart Katchen and who makes a pact with the Devil toward that end--it is given a sardonic twist by Burroughs who compares the magic bullet in the original German fable to heroin.
(The story also provided the libretto for Carl Maria von Weber's popular Romantic opera Der Freischutz.) A bookish young man makes a pact with the devil in order to prove himself as an accomplished hunter, the prerequisite for marrying the forester's daughter.
Each chapter in Notes for Clarinetists focuses on a different composition, organized alphabetically by the last names of the composers, ranging from Arthur Benjamin to Carl Maria von Weber. Chapters follow a standard formula consisting of biographical material on the composers, a short explanation of their compositions, and an analysis of their specific pieces for clarinet.