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Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber's life

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was born in Germany in 1786 and was composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic; he is probably one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. Weber's father gave him a comprehensive education, which was however interrupted by the family's constant moves. In 1796, Weber continued his musical education in Hildburghausen. In 1798 he went to Salzburg to study with Michael Haydn; and later to Munich, to study with the singer Johann Evangelist Wallishauser, and organist J. N. Kalcher. In the same year, he published his first work, six fughettas for piano. In 1800 the family moved to Freiberg, in Saxony, where Weber wrote an opera called Das stumme Waldmädchen (The silent forest maiden), which was produced at the Freiberg Theatre. It was later performed in Vienna, Prague, and St. Petersburg. In 1801, the family returned to Salzburg, where Weber resumed his studies with Michael Haydn. In 1803, Weber's opera, Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn (Peter Schmoll and his Neighbors) was produced in Augsburg, giving Weber his first real success as a composer. From 1813 to 1816 he was director of the Opera in Prague and from 1817 onwards he was director of the Opera in Dresden, working hard to establish a German Opera, in reaction to the Italian Opera which had dominated the European music scene since the 18th century. The successful premiere of Der Freischütz in 1821 in Berlin led to performances all over Europe. Weber's works, especially his operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His orchestration has been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers and his operas influenced the work of later opera composers, especially in Germany. He died in 1826.

Weber's Operas

Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins (1798), Das Waldmädchen ( Das stumme Waldmädchen or Das Mädchen im Spessarter Wald ) (1800), Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn (1801), Rübezahl (1804–5), Silvana (1808–10), Abu Hassan (1810–11), Der Freischütz (1817–21), Die drei Pintos (1820–21), Euryanthe (1822–23), Oberon or The Elf Kings Oath (1825–26).


Weber's Euryanthe

In the opera Euryanthe by Weber, debuted in Vienna in 1823, the German composer gave up the spoken recitatives, typical of the Singspiel genre, and started a new model of opera drama where the musical discourse flows constantly through an intense and multicoloured dramatic recitative. Here's how the birth of Wagner's musical drama was preempted; it is not by chance that Wagner, who greatly appreciated Weber's use of a Leitmotiv to distinguish the characters, took this very opera as a model for his medieval chivalry drama, using themes dear to German Romanticism such as feminine purity and fantasy-evil topics, already used by Weber in his previous successful opera, Der Freischutz (The Marksman or The Freeshooter).
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