Von Weber, Carl Maria
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (18–19 November 1786 – 4–5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.
Weber’s operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. Der Freischütz came to be regarded as the first German “nationalist” opera, Euryanthe developed the Leitmotiv technique to a hitherto-unprecedented degree, while Oberon anticipated Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, at the same time, revealed Weber’s lifelong interest in the music of non-Western cultures. This interest was first manifested in Weber’s incidental music for Schiller’s translation of Gozzi’s Turandot, for which he used a Chinese melody, making him the first Western composer to use an Asian tune that was not of the pseudo-Turkish kind popularized by Mozart and others.
A brilliant pianist himself, Weber composed four sonatas, two concertos and the Konzertstück (Concert Piece) in F minor, which influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. The Konzertstück provided a new model for the one-movement concerto in several contrasting sections (such as Liszt’s, who often played the work), and was acknowledged by Stravinsky as the model for his Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. Weber’s shorter piano pieces, such as the Invitation to the Dance, was later orchestrated by Berlioz, while his Polacca Brillante was later orchestrated by Liszt.
Weber compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His compositions for the clarinet, which include two concertos, a concertino, a quintet and a duo concertante, are regularly performed today. His Concertino for Horn and Orchestra requires the performer to simultaneously produce two notes by humming while playing—a technique known as multiphonics. His Bassoon Concerto and the Andante e Rondo ungarese (a reworking of a piece originally for viola and orchestra) are also popular with bassoonists.
Weber’s contribution to vocal and choral music is also significant. His body of Catholic religious music was highly popular in 19th century Germany, and he composed one of the earliest song-cycles, Die Temperamente beim Verluste der Geliebten (Four Temperaments on the Loss of a Lover). Weber was also notable as one of the first conductors to conduct without a piano or violin.