George Grove.

A dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) online

. (page 94 of 194)
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him to drawing, painting in oil, pastel, and ei
engraving. Weber, in his autobiography, sa]
that he followed this with some success,' bi
the specimens preserved in the family sho;
nothing beyond a certain manual dexterifci
with no sign of real talent.

His father had left Eutin in 1787, and ws
leading a restless life as director of a d:
matic troupe mainly consisting of his o
grown-up children. During the next few ye:
he is to be found in Vienna, Cassel, Meiningei
Nuremberg, Erlangen, and Augsburg. Bad a
the influence of this roving life must have bee
on the whole, it had its advantages for Cm
Maria in the special line to which he was t
devote himself, for he may be said to have groTO
up behind the scenes. From his childhood U
was at home in the stage-world as none I

cantata 'Das lob Gottes in der Natur,' and pieces for the viola, bw
in MS.

■1 C. F. Pohl's Joseph Haydn, ii. 204. The general opinion <
Edmund von Weber is somevrhat opposed to Spohr's judgment
making his acquaintance in Berne in 1816. He says ' he Is said to ll
a good theoretical musician : as a violinist and conductor he is weak
Spohr's Selbstbiographie. i. 2.'53.

5 Weber's Litterarische Arbeiten. 175. (Leipzig. Kiel., 1866.) ,;



i



WEBER.



WEBER.



389



! great opera-composers liave been — not even
)zart. That instinct for the stage, so obvious

all his dramatic conceptions, and so un-
tunately absent in most of our German
jra-composers, no doubt sprang from these
■ly impressions. In 1794, the father being
Weimar with his family, Carl Maria's mother
noveva, then twenty-six, was engaged as a
gar at the theatre under Goethe's direction,
i appeared, on June 16, as Constanze in Mo-
t's ' Entflihrung.' The engagement was how-
!r cancelled in September, and Franz Anton
t Weimar, to his subsequent regret.'^ He
nt, it appears, to Erlangen, and in 1796 to
Idburghausen. There the boy of nine found
first scientific and competent teacher in
luschkel, an eminent oboist, a solid pianist
i organist, and a composer who thoroughly
ierstood his art. An organ-piece by him on
! Chorale ' Vom Himmel hoch,' a copy of
ich is in the writer's possession, shows
lie fancy, but a complete mastery ot the
hnique of composition. It is impossible to
,te with certainty the method on which
juschkel had formed himself as a pianist, but
was probably Emanuel Bach's. He had a
t for teaching, and being still young (born
73), took a personal interest in his pupil,
rl Maria did not at first like the hard, dry,
idies to which his teacher inexorably bound
n, but he soon found that he was making
egress, and the father at last beheld with
;onishment the dawn of that genuine musical
ent which he had himself tried in vain to
oke. Weber never forgot what he owed to
3uschkel. In his autobiographical sketch,
itten in 1818, he says that from him he had
;eived the best possible, indeed the only true,
mdation for a style of pianoforte playing,

once powerful, expressive, and full of cha-
5ter, especially the equal cultivation of the two
nds. Heuschkel on his part followed with
stifiable pride the subsequent triumphs of his
pil, and one of his published compositions is
piece for wind-instruments on themes from
)s.sini's ' Semiramide,' and Weber's 'Euryanthe '
chott).

Unfortunately this instruction lasted but a
art time, as Franz Anton moved on in the
tumn with his company to Salzburg. Here
ere was a training-school for chorister-boys,
nilar to St. Stephen's Cantorei in Vienna,

which the brothers, Joseph and Michael
aydn, were educated. MichaelHaydn had been

the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg
ice 1762, first as Concertmeister, and after-
irds Cathedral organist also. One of his
ities was to teach singing to the choristers,
aong whom the young Weber soon found a
ace, speedily exciting the attention of Haydn,
e asked him to his house, and set him to play
concerto of Kozeluch's, which he had studied
ith Heuschkel, and other pieces, including a
citative from Graun's 'Tod Jesu.' The upshot

PasquiS's ' Goethe's Theaterleitung in Weimar,' ii, 20,223. Leipzig,
iber. 1863.



was that after repeated requests from the father
he consented to give the boy gratuitous in-
struction in composition.

Michael Haydn has been somewhat hardly
dealt with as a composer. His talent was con-
siderable, and had been thoroughly cultivated,
although he had not the genius of his elder
brother. As a teacher the mere fact of his age,
sixty, put him at too great a distance from his
eleven-year-old pupil for anything like the s;ime
results as had been obtained with Heuschkel.
Still he seems to have been satisfied with six
fughettas, composed apparently under his own
eye, and the proud father had them printed in
score. The dedication, showing evident traces
of the father's hand, runs, ' To Herr Edmund
von Weber, my beloved brother in Hessen-Cassel.
To you as connoisseur, as musician, as teacher,
and more than all as brother, these firstfruits
of his musical labours are dedicated, in the
eleventh year of his age, by your tenderly loving
brother, Karl Maria von Weber, Salzburg, Sept. i,
1 798.'^ Carl Maria's mother had died on March
13, of consumption, and her death perhaps occa-
sioned a trip to Vienna in April, on which Carl
Maria accompanied his father. Here they heard
the 'Creation' (April 29 or 30), and probably
entered into personal relations with Haydn.
Immediately after his return, in the begiiming
of July at the latest, the father began to talk of
leaving Salzburg, for 'one cannot exist under
this hierarchy,' and in the autumn they all moved
to Munich. As the lessons in composition from
Michael Haydn only began in January 1798,
they cannot have lasted more than six months,
Franz Anton had gradually tired of his stage-
managing. ' I have bid good-bye to the good old
theatre ' he writes,^ ' and have returned, though
without pay, to my old military life.' This
consisted in his adoption of the title of Major,
to which he had no sort of right. In
Munich Carl Maria had two new teachers,
the singer Wallishauser (Italianised into Valesi)
and Johann Nepomuck Kalcher, afterwards
court-organist. With the latter he made
more progress in composition than with Michael
Haydn, and always retained a grateful recollec-
tion of him. He soon began to play at concerts
with success. Under Kalcher's eye he wrote
his first opera, 'Die Macht der Liebe und des
Weins,' a mass, PF. sonatas, and variations,
violin trios, and songs ; but the MSS. have all
disappeared ; apparently he burnt them himself.*
One work of this time has survived, a set of
variations for PF. (op. 2), dedicated to Kal-
cher, and specially interesting as lithographed
by himself. He had been led to this kind of work

2 M. M. TOn Weher, i. 41, and elsewhere, thinks his father made
him out intentionally a year younger than he was. but of this piece
of dishonesty he may be acquitted. The careless mistake of speaking
of a person as of the age of the current year instead of that ot the
year last completed is very frequent in German. The e.xpression
• in the eleventh year of his age,' may well have meant the same as
eleven years old.

3 January 19, 1799. to Hofkammerrath Kirms at Weimar.

4 M. von Weber.i. 49, etc., says that they were accidentally destroyed
in Kalcher's house. See however Biedeufeld's 'Komische Opera,'
134 (Leipzig, Weigel. 1848) and K. Muziol in the ■ Neue Berliner Musik-
zeitung' for 1879, No. 1. etc.



390



WEBER.



by his acquaintance with Aloys Senefelder, the
inventor of lithography, in whose shop he fre-
quently occupied himself, even imagining that he
had discovered some improvements in the method
of mechanical reproduction. Indeed, his interest
in lithography became so keen, that for a time
he neglected composition. The father, always
restless and whimsical, thought of carrying out
the new discovery on a large scale, and it was
decided to move to Freiberg in Saxony, where
the necessary materials were more easily pro-
curable. The plan was carried into effect in
1800, Carl Maria giving concerts on the way
with success at Leipzig and other towns in
Central Germany. Arrived ia Freiberg he
speedily lost his interest in lithography, partly
owing to an opening which occurred for pro-
ducing a dramatic work. The large and well-
selected company of Eitter von Steinsberg, whom
the Webers had met before, had been playing
there since the summer. Steinsberg had vmtten
an opera-book, 'Das Waldmadchen,' which he
handed over to Carl Maria, then just thirteen,
and the first performance took place on Nov. 24.
Public expectation had been roused to a high
pitch by Franz Anton's manoeuvres, and seems
to have been barely satisfied by the result. Two
Freiberg musicians entered into a newspaper
correspondence with the composer, whose pen
was obviously guided by his father, for the in-
temperate, impertinent, tone of the letters is
wholly unlike anything in Carl Maria's cha-
racter. The opera succeeded better at Chemnitz
(Dec. 5, 1800), and was evidently appreciated in
Vienna (Leopoldstadt Theatre, 1S05), where it
was given eight times during the month of
December. It was also performed at Prague,
and even in St. Petersburg, but negotiations with
Weimar fell through. Carl Maria was quite
aware afterwards of the small value of this
youthful work. In his autobiographical sketches,
he calls it 'a very immature production, not
perhaps without occasional marks of invention,
the second act of which I wrote in ten days,'
adding, 'this was one of the many unfortunate
consequences of the marvellous tales of the great
masters, which made so great an impression on
my juvenile mind, and which I tried to imitate.'

Freiberg in its turn was abandoned, possibly
towards the end of iSoo, certainly by the begin-
ning of 1 80 1. The last we hear of him there is
that he wrote on Dec. 9 to Artaria of Vienna
offering him his lithographic invention, the ad-
vantages of which were, in his own words, 'i. I
can en^'rave music on stone in a manner quite
equal to the finest English copper-plate engrav-
ing, as the enclosed specimens will sl:ow. 2. One
workman can complete from two to three plates
a day in winter, and from three to four in summer
when the daj's are longer. 3. A plate can be
used again, by which I mean entirely erased,
over thirty times. 4. Two men can take as
many thousand impressions a week as in common
printing. 5. One hundred thalers will cover the
whole outlay for machinery.' He also ofifered
the Viennese publishers several compositions



WEBER.

for strings and for piano. Artaria took
notice of the letter.* After this the father a
son seem to have made some stay in Chemni
as we have letters from the former there dat
April 24, and May 17, 1801. By November th
were again in Salzburg, where Carl Maria co:
posed the opera ' Peter Schmoll und seine Nac
barn,' produced in Augsburg (probably in 180
without any special success. In a letter
Nov. 25, 1801, Carl Maria calls himself a pu]
of Michael Haydn, ' and of several other gre
masters in Munich, Dresden, Prague, and Vienn
but who these masters were has not been as©
tained. As far as Vienna, Prague, and Dresd
are concerned, it can refer only to short tei
porary relations with musicians, as up to tl
time no stay had been made in any of the
places. The passage however is fresh eviden
of the continual restlessness in which Webei
youth was passed. In the summer of 1802 1
went with his father to North Germany, ai
in October paid a fortnight's visit to his birt
place. Here he saw much of Johann Heinrii
Voss, a fact worthy of note, because of tl
admirable settings he afterwards composed
some of Voss's poems. On the return jourm
he composed at Hamburg, also in October, I
two first Lieder — 'Die Kerze,' by Matthisso
and 'Umsonst,' of which the latter only h
been printed. At Coburg, where the court w
very musical, he tried to procure a hearing f
his two operas, but whether successfully or n
cannot be ascertained. More important than tl
actual musical results of this tour were tl
theoretical studies on which he embarked durii
its progress. He collected books on theorj', ai
soon his letters are fuU of Emmanuel Bad
'Versuch iiber die wahre Art das Clavier 5
spielen,' of Agricola (apparently his revision
Tosi's ' Introduction to Singing '), of Kirnberge
and others. Thus he began to cultivate ind
pendence of thought on matters of art. H
newly acquired knowledge of theory was iude(
rudely shaken in Augsburg, where he arrivf
November 1802, and made some stay. Here 1
formed a close friendship with a certain D
Munding, who in all their conversations on a
had a disturbing habit of demanding the reasc
for every rule propounded, which Weber was ni
at that time competent to give. This howev^
stimulated him to clear up his own views on tl
fundamental laws of art. The most striking fa
about him at this time was the extraordinary a
tivity of hismindin every direction. He tookgre;
interest in musical criticism, and in Decembi
1 802 was busy with preparations for a musical di'
tionary. A Salzburg friend, Ignaz Susan, wrote!
encourage him in a plan for a musical periodica
and was soon afterwards employed in procurin
liim materials for a history of music in Vienni
whither he betook himself early in 1803. Th
most important acquaintance he made on th:
visit was that of the Abb^ Vogler, who wa
then composing his opera ' Samori.' This giftec
many-sided man, however he may have falle

1 Nohl's •Musiker-Briefe,' 2nd ed., 177.



WEBER.



WEBER.



391



irt of tbe higTiest excellence in art, exer-
ed a more stimulating effect than any
ler artist on Weber, who attached himself to
n with all the enthusiasm of youth. 'By
)gler's advice,' he says, 'I gave up — and a
;at privation it was — working at great sub-
its, and for nearly two years devoted m^'self to
igent study of the various works of the great
tsters, whose method of construction, treat-
int of ideas, and use of means, we dissected
fether, while I separately made studies after
sm, to clear up the different points in my
n mind.' Vogler himself put great confi-
ace in his pupil. After Weber's arrival one
3ning in October 1803, Vogler suddenly ran
o the inner room, closed the doors, shut the
liters, and set to work at something with
jat secrecy. At length he brought out a
ndle of music, and after Weber had promised
solute silence, played him the overture, and
ne other pieces from his new opera. Finally

commissioned him to prepare the PF. score.

am now sitting down to it, studying, and
joying myself like the devil,' Weber writes to
san.^ The relations with Joseph Haydn were
10 renewed. ' He is always cheerful and lively,
es to talk of his experiences, and particularly
joys having rising young artists about him.
} is the very model of a great man.' These
irds of Weber's perhaps explain the fact that
ither in his letters, which often go into great
tail on the state of music in Vienna, nor in his
)graphical sketch, does he mention Beethoven,
lat he was personally acquainted with him
sre is no manner of doubt.^ But Beethoven
\a difficult of access, and his rough ways
ly have repelled the delicate, refined andgrace-
. youth. That Vogler used underhand means
keep them asunder is probably an unfounded
lumption, but a certain irritation against
lethoven clung to Weber for many a year, till
gave way in manhood to an unreserved ad-
ration and hearty veneration. Among other
isicians of note in Vienna Weber mentions
ummel, just made Capellmeister to Prince
terhazy, whom he calls the 'most elegant
inoforte-player in Vienna.' This opinion he
)dified on hearing him again in Prague in
16. His precision and his pearly runs he still
mired, but thought ' Hummel had not studied
i intrinsic nature of the instrument.' Of
eber's own works during this time in Vienna
t few exist, and of these few most are con-
5ted with Vogler, e.g. the PF. score of ' Samori ' ;
r. variations on themes from 'Samori,' and
astor and Pollux,' another opera of Vogler's.^
at he was studying hard is certain, but this
.8 not incompatible with a youthful enjoyment
th of life and natural beauty. He became
juainted with a young officer, Johann Baptist
nsbacher, a musical amateur, also a pupil
Vogler' 8, and the acquaintance soon ripened
<o an intimate and life-long friendship, Weber's

1 NohVs • Mosaik," 68, etc. (Leipzig : Senflf, 1882.)

s Ibid. 78. note.

3 See J&hos. Kos. 39, 40, 43.



son and biographer also has something to say of
a ' tender connection with a lady of position ' in
Vienna. Possibly a song, ' Jiingst sass ich am
Grab der Trauten allein,' composed immediately
after his departure from Vienna, had something
to do with this affair. Vogler had recommended
him for the post of Capellmeister of the theatre
at Breslau, and by May 8, 1804, before he was
quite seventeen and a half, the arrangements
were concluded. He went first to Salzburg to
fetch his old father, and there, in the rooms
of his friend Susan, composed the song just
mentioned. On June 5 he was in Augsburg, and
travelled on the 14th by Karlsbad to Breslau.*

If his biographer is correct in stating that
Weber did not enter upon his post at Breslau
before November 1804, he must either have
been living there for more than three months
without occupation, or have been touring about
as an artist from June to October. But there is
no indication of his having taken either of these
courses. The Breslau theatre was kept up by
a company chiefly consisting of better-class
citizens. The head manager in 1804 was J. G-.
Rhode, Professor at tbe Kriegsschule. Previous
to Weber's appointment, Carl Ebell had acted
as director of music, but he, originally a lawyer,
had returned to an ofiicial career. The orchestra
and chorus were sufficient for ordinary demands.
Weber, on this his first entrance on practical life,
showed great talent for direction and organisation,
though from over-zeal and inexperience he made
many mistakes. He had from the first to con-
tend with the prejudices of the managing com-
mittee, and with strong opposition in the chief
musical circles of the town. The leader of this
opposition was Joseph Schnabel, formerly first
violinist, and deputy-conductor of the theatre,
and appointed Cathedral -01 ganist in 1805. Schna-
bel left the theatre on Weber's arrival, probably
from vexation at not being Capellmeister
himself, and, as a man of 37, declining to
serve under a lad of 18. The two continued
on awkward terms, and some rudenesses of
which Weber was guilty towards Schnabel, a
respectable and much respected man, did not
raise him in the estimation of the better part of
the public. Among the managing company he
had roused opponents, by insisting on several
expensive alterations. Rhode, indeed, was well-
disposed towards him, and wrote a libretto,
'Riibezahl,' on which Weber set to work at
Breslau.

In spite of Rhode, however, a regular breach
ensued in the spring of 1806, and Weber's resig-
nation was accepted. With the best inten-
tions he had done little to raise the state
of music in Breslau ; but the years spent
there were of great importance to his own
development. Not only was his great gift
for conducting first made apparent to himself
and others, but it was chiefly at Breslau that
the original and gifted pianist and composer,

< M. von Weber is incorrect here, i. 87. Also the Variations, op. 6.
were completed earlier than stated bj JShns (No. 43, p. 67). Thej
irere andoubtedl; finished b; May 1801.



39-:



WEBER.



whom his contemporaries admired, and posterity
venerates, was formed. Although somewhat
isolated socially, his gifts and his amiable dis-
position attracted round him a small circle of
musical people. Carl Ebell was one of the
nnmber, but his closest friends were F. W. Berner
and J. W. Klingohr, both little older than him-
self, and both admired pianists, Berner bein'^f
also chief organist of the church of St. Eliza-
beth, a talented composer, and in a certain
sense, a pupil of Vogler's. The three young
men formed a close bond, and endeavoured to
make their intimacy mutually profitable. Klin-
gohr's strong points were sweetness, correctness,
and grace ; Berner's, power, and depth of thought ;
Weber excelled in brilliancy, fascination, and
unexpectedness. In genius he far surpassed the
others, but Berner had had the solid training
which he lacked. All three exercised themselves
dili.;ently in extempore playincr, then justly con-
sidered the highest qualification for a good
pianoforte-player and organist. In this branch
also Weber proved the most gifted ; in spite of
risky harmonies, and even awkward counter-
point, detected by critical hearers, he carried
all before him by the charm of his melodies,
and the originality of his whole musical nature.
He had also acquired considerable skill on
the guitar, on which he would accompany his
own mellow voice in songs, mostly of a humorous
character, with inimitable effect. This talent
was often of great use to him in society, and he
composed many Lieder with guitar accompani-
ment. His fine voice, however, he neai'ly lost
in Breslau. One day, in the early part of 1806,
he had invited Berner to spend the evening with
him, and play over tlie newly-completed overture
to ' Riibezahl,' but on Berner's arrival he found
his friend insensible on the floor. Wanting a glass
of wine he had taken by mistake some nitric acid,
used by his father for experiments in etching.
He was with difficulty restored to consciousness,
when it was found that the vocal organs were
impaired, and the inside of the mouth and air-
passages seriously injured. He recovered after
a long illness, but his singing-voice remained
weak, and even his speaking-voice never re-
gained its full power. Beyond a few numbers
of'Rubezahl,' Weber composed little in Breslau.
An 'Overtura Chinesa,' lost in its original
form, was re-modelled in 1809 as the overture
to 'Turandot.'

After his withdrawal from the theatre he
remained at Breslau without any regular em-
ployment, living on the hard-earned proceeds
of music-lessons. Having his father to provide
for, and encumbered with debts accumulated
while he was endeavouring to live a some-
wliat fast life on a salary of 600 thalers a year
(about £90), he found himself hard pressed, and
determined to try a concert-tour. One of his
pupils, Fraulein von Belonde, was lady-in-waiting
to the wife of Duke Eugene of Wirtemberg,
then living at Schloss Carlsruhe in Silesia,
where he kept up a great deal of music. Tlie
lady's influence procured for Weber the title of



WEBEE.

Musik-Intendant, which would, it was hopt
be a help to him on his tour, but that prosp<
having been destroyed by the war, the Dukei
vited Weber to Schloss Carlsruhe. Here
found not only a refuge for himself, his fatht
and an aunt, but a most desirable atmosphe
for the cultivation of his art. He took up I
abode there about midsummer, and though t
Duke was summoned to the army in Septembi
the war was expected to be so soon over th
at first no change was made in the peaceful li
at the Castle. In these few months Weber wro
a considerable number of instrumental piec(
chiefly for the excellent artists who compost
the small chapel of the Duke. To January i8<
belong two orchestral symphonies (his only ont
both in C major'), and these had been precede
by some variations for viola and orchestra (D(
19), and a small concerto for horn and orche
tra (Nov. 6, 1806), Possibly, too, the wel
known variations on Bianchi's ' Vien qu
Dorina bella ' belong to the last few weeks
Carlsruhe.'^ This happy time came to an end
February 1807, after Napoleon's decisive victoi
over the Prussians, when the state of univers
insecurity made it necessary to dismiss the ban
But the Duke, with true nobility of mind, show(
himself anxious to provide for his musician
and through his intervention Weber was ii"
stalled as private secretary at Stuttgart 1
Duke Ludwig, brother to Duke Eugene, ar
to the king (Frederic) of Wirtemberg. As thin;
were, he could not hesitate to accept a po;
which promised him, even at the cost of
temporary exile from his art, a certain incom-
doubly necessary now that he had his father i
provide for. As he was not required at Stuttgai
till September i, he made use of the inter vi
after his departure from Carlsruhe on Februar,
23, for a concert-tour. The war made concert
a matter of great difficulty, but, after seven
vain attempts, he succeeded at Anspach, Ni
remberg, Bayreuth, and Erlangen. He the
turned in the direction of Stuttgart, where h



Online LibraryGeorge GroveA dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) → online text (page 94 of 194)