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

. (page 95 of 194)
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arrived July 17, and entered on his new pos
August I.

Duke Ludwig was a frivolous man of pleasure
who habitually spent more than his income, an'
did not scruple to resort to underhand ani
desperate expedients to extricate himself froii
his embarassments. The corruption of moral
at the dissipated court of Stuttgart was terrible
and Weber's position was a dangerous one fron
many points of view. His duties were to managi
the Duke's private correspondence, keep hi;
accounts, furnish him, sometimes by most un
pleasant means, with money to satisfy or pui
off his numerous creditors — all things for whicl
Weber was too ignorant and inexperienced

1 See JJihns. Nos. .^0 and 51.

2 Weber slates in liis autobiographical sketch that he composed ^.j
Schloss Carlsruhe 2 Symphonies, several Concertos, and ■ Harmonle'
stucke' (pieces lor wind without strings). If we include the violl
variations, much in the form of a concerto, we get 2 concertos, bul
the HarmoniestUcke are missing. A ■ Tusch' (flourish of trumpets,
of 4 bars, for ao trumpets, printed by Jahns No. 47 A, p. 61, probablj
counted as one of them.


i which formed a ruinous exhibition of dis-
ute life for so young a man. His natural
Idency to dissipation and gaiety was fostered

this immoral life, all the more because his
le of Freiherr at once gained him admittance

the circles of the corrupt young nobility,
lus involved he lost .sight of his own proper
2-object — music, or like a mere dilettante,
sated his art as an amusement. He had
sides, great social gifts, and was always a
slcome guest. He ran great risk of giving up

serious effort, and yet it was indispensable

him, on account of his iiTegular and defec-
'e training. It is not to be wondered at
it a sterling artist like Spohr, who knew him

Stuttgart, should have formed a low, or
lolly unfavourable, impression of his artistic
wers. It was oidy genius of a high order, and
;onscientious nature such as his was at bottom,
it enabled him to raise himself at last to his
esent lofty position.

Stuttgart abounded in opportunities for im-
jving his general cultivation, and procuring
ish nutriment for his active and receptive
,nd. He made acquaintance with the principal
thors, artists, and scientific men of the place,
luy and Eeinbeck, Dannecker and Hotsch,

C. Schwab, Spittler, and Lehr, all enjoyed
}ercourse with so agreeable a youth. Lehr,
e court-librarian, opened to him the treasures

the royal collection of books, among which
eber's preference was for philosophical works,
e read Wolf, Kant, and Schelling, with atten-
>n and profit, and formed on them his own
ades of thinking and expressing himself.
His great gift for music naturally became
lown, and Duke Ludwig made him music-
aster to his children. The Capellmeister of the
era (from 1807) was Franz Danzi, a melodious
mposer, an excellent cellist, and sociable,
ough of regular life. Though twenty-three
ars older than Weber, he speedily formed an in-
nacy with him, and tried to exercise a calming
id restraining influence over him, while both
' precept and example he was of great ser-
ce to b'm in his art. His friendship with
anzi brought Weber into connection with the
mpany of the Stuttgart court-theatre, a cir-
mstance which, while it stimulated him to
3sh dramatic production, involved him in
6 loose life of a Bohemian set. A violent
ciprocal attachment for the singer Margarethe
mgi led him into all sorts of follies, causing
m to neglect cultivated and intellectual society,
id ruining him financially. Another personage

importance in his artistic career was Franz
irl Hiemer, the dramatic author. Both he
id Weber belonged to a society of lively
)UDg men, who called themselves 'Faust's
oUenfahrt.' Each member assumed a special
ime ; the president, a Dr. Kellin, was ' Dr.
lust,' Hiemer 'Ileimwol,' Weber 'Kraut-

Not the daughter, as M. M. v. Weber states (i. 159) but the sister
Cheobald Langthe violinist, and in consequence aunt to Josephine
ng-Kustlin, Mendelssohn's friend, and composer of so many



salat,' and Danzi, who had been persuaded to
join, 'Rapunzel,' Among Weber's papers was
found a comic musical epistle, ' from Krautsalat
to Rapunzel,'^ which gives a striking picture of
his irrepressible spirits in such society, Hiemer
had had some previous success as a librettist, and
undertook to write a romantico-comic opera for
him. 'Das Waldmiidchen' was the subject
chosen, and Hiemer seems to have adhered
pretty closely to Steinsberg's book, which Weber
had set in Freiberg. The new work, ' Silvana '
by name, seems to have made slow progress
amid the distractions of Weber's life. It was
begun, as far as can be ascertained, on July i8,
1808, and finished Feb. 23, 1810.'

Throiigh Danzi's intervention the opera was
accepted for the court-theatre, and was about to
be put into rehearsal, when an incident, to be
related shortly, ruined all. Whilst busy with
his opera, Weber composed, what under the cir-
cumstances must be considered a large number
of other works — a strong proof of the increasing
force of his productive power. The most import-
ant was ' Der erste Ton,' a poem by Rochlitz,
for declamation, with orchestra and concluding
chorus. He remodelled the overture to ' Peter
Schmoll,' and published it as a separate work ;
also the 'Overtura Chinesa,' which was made
to serve as the introduction to ' Tm-andot,' a play
by Gozzi and Schiller, for which he also wrote
six short incidental pieces. Of PF. music, by far
the most important piece is the Polonaise in Eb,
op. 21, completed June 4, 1808, at Ludwigsburg,
and dedicated to Margarethe Lang. With her
too are connected the ' Variations on an original
theme,' op. 9 ; the clever ' Memento capriccioso,'
op. 12, and the charming 'Six pieces pour le
pianoforte a quatre mains' (Nov. 27, 1809).
His solitary PF. quartet (in Bb) * was also of this
period, as well as the 'Variations for PF. and
violin on a Norwegian theme,' an 'Andante and
Rondo Ungarese ' for viola and orchestra, not
published in this form, a Potpourri for cello and
orchestra, and thirteen Lieder with accompani-
ment, several of which are of perfect beauty.

King Frederic lived on bad terms with his
brother, Duke Ludwig, whose frivolity and ex-
travagance were specially irritating, as the
king had several times had to extricate him
from his embarrassments for the sake of the
family honour. His displeasure also descended
on the Duke's secretary, who generally had the
unpleasant task of informing the king of his
brother's difficulties. On these occasions the
King would load the unfortunate Weber with
most unkingly abuse. This roused Weber's bold
and haughty spirit, and led him to revenge
himself by various little spiteful tricks. On
leaving the Cabinet in a great rage after one
of these violent scenes, he met an old woman
in the corridor who asked him for the laundress's
room ; 'There,' said Weber, pointing to the door
of the king's apartments, ' the royal laundress
lives in there,' and went off. The woman went

2 Printed entire by M. M. von Weber, i. 146.
8 JShus, pp. 101 and 103.

* Jahns, No. 76.



in, and, being angrily received by the king,
stammered out that a young gentleman who
bad just left the room had directed her there.
Enraged at this aftVont, the king ordered him
into iirrest, but he was begged oft' by the Duke,
and nothing more was done at the time. That the
king did not forget his audacity he learnt after-
wards to his cost.

As Duke Ludwig's financial position became
worse, he was driven to still more questionable
expedients. The king having made a decree
by which the only persons exempt from mili-
tary service were the members of the royal
household, these appointments were much sought
after, and many parents were willing to pay a
considerable sum for the reversion of one. It
was observed that about this time there was a
sudden accession to the Duke's household of
young noblemen who bore official titles without
any corresponding duties. Just then Weber had
been endeavouring to obtain a loan from one of
his acquaintances, in order to discharge a debt
of his father's, who had been living with him
since 1809. On the gentleman's refusal a former
servant of his offered Weber to procure it for a
consideration, and then assured his late employer
that the Secretary, if obliged in the matter of
the loan, would secure his son an appointment
in the Duke's household. On this understand-
ing the loan was effected; but when no ap-
pointment ensued, and the son was drawn for
a soldier, the father in his indignation made the
affair known. The king had long been dis-
satisfied with the state of his brother's household,
and believing Weber to be the real culprit,
determined to make an example of him. The
preparations for 'Silvana' were in progress,
and Weber was at the theatre, when, on the
evening of Feb. 9, 1810, he was arrested and
thrown into prison. An enquiry ensued, and
Weber's innocence, of which indeed all Stutt-
gart had been convinced, was completely esta-
blished ; but the king, on Feb. 26, sentenced
him and his father to perpetual banishment
from Wirtemberg. This hard stroke of fate
might be looked upon as a punishment for
so many frivolous years, and for sins com-
mitted against the guiding genius of his art ; and
it was in this light that Weber took it. Hence-
forth his youthful follies were laid aside, and
he settled down conscientiously and perseveringly
to the life of an artist in earnest pursuit after
his ideal. 'From this time forward,' he said,
eight years afterwards, 'I can count pretty
tolerably on having settled matters with myself;
and all that time has since done or can do for
me, is to rub off corners, and add clearness and
comprehensibility to the principles then firmly

Danzi, a real friend in need, gave him introduc-
tions to Mannheim, where Peter Kitter was Capell-
meister, and Gottfried Weber, afterwards so
well-known as a musical theoretician, Conductor
of the society called the 'Museum.' Received in a
kindly spirit by all, in Gottlried Weber he found
a friend for life. Under his auspices concerts |


were at once arranged for March 9 and April
and at these the 'Erster Ton' was produced i
the first time, the words being declaimed by tl
actor Esslair. His first symphony too was
great success, as well as his pianoforte-plavin
On a trip to Heidelberg he made the acquair
ance of Alexander von Dusch, a brother-in-la
of Gottfried Weber, and a cello-player of gre
taste, who after finishing his studies at East€
1810, came to settle in Mannheim. The thr
friends spent a few happy weeks in live
intellectual intercourse, and in April Web
moved to Darmstadt, where Vogler had bei
living since 1807. Here he met his frieni
Gansbacher and Meyerbeer from Berlin. Web
did not return to the old relations of mast
and pupil with Vogler, but sought to pro.
by intercourse with him. His respect f
him was undiminished, though he could i
longer agree with all that he practised ai
taught, and was quite aware of the weakness
of his character. ' May I succeed in placii
before the world a clear idea of his rai
psychological development, to his honour, ai
the instruction of young artists ! ' Weber hi
the intention of writing a life of Vogler as fi
back as 18 10, and the words just quoted sho
that he still retained the idea in 181 8, thouj
it was never carried out. This was a pity, fi
his representation of Vogler might perhaps ha'
altered the universally unfavourable "verdict
later times. [See Vogler ; vol. iv. p. 324, etc
On June 21, 1810, Weber undertook a sms
literary work at Vogler's instigation. Vogler hi
remodelled some of the Chorales in Breitkopl
second edition (1784 to 86) of J. S, Bacb
Chorales, published under Emmanuel Bacli
supervision, honestly thinking that Bach w;
open to great improvement on the score of beaul
and correctness. He now begged his formi
pupil to write a commentary on his revisions, ar
publish them for the benefit of students. Thf
Weber embarked on the work ^ with any amoui
of eagerness there is no evidence to show ; pr
bably not, his mind being entirely practical ar
by no means pedagogic. As a matter of fa;
the analyses were done very perfunctorily, m
were they all his own, for Chorale VII. was doi
by Gottfried Weber, and part of Chorale IX. an
all Chorale X. by Vogler himself.* Weber fe
his unfitness for the task, and so expresse
himself in the introduction. If any part of
interested him it was the comparison of Vogler
supposed systematic and philosophical methoc
with Bach's mode of proceeding by instinc
He had been long seeking for something
which to ground a system ; a fact for whic
there is a very simple explanation in the ur
certainty of his musical instincts, particular!
as regards the sequence of harmonies, an ui
uncertainty arising from his desultory earl
training, and never wholly overcome. That h

1 Published in tlie same yearby Peters of Leipzig. ' ZwOlf ChorJ
von Sebastian Bach, iimgearbeitet TOn Vogler, zergUedert Ton C».
Maria von Weber,' etc.

3 JtthDS, p. 454.


nsidered Vogler's alterations improvements is
it surprising ; for his acquaintance with Bach,
ce his knowledge of history in general, was
lall ; and he knew as little as Vogler did of
e original intention of the Chorales in question.
Weber's attraction towards literary work, of
bich traces may be seen as far back as
l02, was very marked about this time. He
me forward frequently as an author between
I09 and 1S18, after that at longer ititer-
Is, and not at all after 1821, In Stutt-
rt he began a musical novel, ' Tonkiinstlers
jben,' which had been accepted by Cotta of
ibingen, and was to have been ready by
ister 181 1 ; but the time went by, and it was
ver finished. A fragment published in the
ilorgenblatt ' for Dec. 1809, contains some
vere remarks on Beethoven's 3rd and 4th Sym-
lonies. Mozart was Weber's ideal musician,
d at that time he was quite impervious to
jethoven's music. Nageli of Zurich having
inted out a subtle resemblance between Weber
id Beethoven (which really is observable, in
e Momento Capriccioso for instance, and still
are in his later works'), Weber wrote to him
)m Mannheim, 'Flattering as this might appear
many, it is not agreeable to me. In the first
ice, I detest everytliing in the shape of imita-
)n ; and in the second, my ideas are so opposite
Beethoven's that I cannot imagine it possible
J should ever meet. His fervid, almost in-
edible, inventive powers, are accompanied by
much confusion in the arrangement of his
eas, that his early works alone interest me ;
e later ones are to me a bewildering chaos, an
scure straining after novelty, lit up it is
le by divine flashes of genius, which only
rve to show how great he might be if he would
it curb his riotous imagination. I, of course,
nnot lay claim to the genius of Beethoven ;
I I hope is ... . that each separate stroke of
ine tells.' ^ This passage, which well bears
inting, shows that Weber by no means over-
preciated himself, but was anxious to guard
B own independence, and uttered his opinions
a straig'ntforward manner. — He began now to
ipear more frequently as a critic. All criticism
I himself he paid great attention to, and was
lly convinced of the value of good musical
nsure, so he set to work with his friends to
Bvate the art in general. Towards the close of
!lo, he, Gottfried Weber, Alexander von Dusch,
id Meyerbeer, founded the so-called * Harmon-
;her Verein,' with the general object offurther-
g the cause of art, and the particular one of
itending thorough and impartial criticism. The
gularly constituted members were required to
i both composers and literary men, but writers
ere admitted, if possessed of sufficient musical
lowledge. The motto of the society was ' the
evation of musical criticism by musicians them-
Ives,' a sound principle which, then promul-
kted for the first time in musical Germany,
a shown itself fuU of vitality down to the
'esent day. In this branch Weber was the

1 Nohl's ■ Huslkeibriefe,' 2nd ed. 178.



direct precursor of Schumann. He and Gottfried
Weber also considered the foundation of a musi-
cal journal, and though the plan was never
carried out, it was long before Weber gave
it up. He was still occupied with it even during
the Dresden period of his life. Other members
of the society were Gansbacher, Berger the
singer, Dauzi, and Berner. The existence of
the society was a secret, and each member
adopted a nom de plume. Weber signed him-
self Melos ; Gottfried Weber, Giusto ; Gans-
bacher, Triole, etc. Here, again, we are reminded
of Schumann and the ' Davidsbiindler.* The two
Webers were active in their exertions, and their
efforts were undeniably successful.

Vogler was proud of his disciples, especially
of Weber and Meyerbeer. ' Oh,' he is said to
have exclaimed, ' how sorry I should have been,
if I had had to leave the world before I formed
those two. There is within me a something
which I have never been able to call forth, but
those two will do it.' Weber however found
existence at Darmstadt hard after the pleasant
never-to-be-forgotten days at Mannheim. He
got away as often as he could, gave concerts
at Aschaffenburg, Mannheim, Carlsruhe, and
Frankfort, and found time also to compose.
Ideas flowed in upon him, many to be used only
in much later works. For instance, the ideas
of the first chorus of fairies, and of the ballet-
music in the third act of ' Oberon,' and the chief
subject of the ' Invitation h la Valse ' were in
his mind at this period. While on the look-out
for a subject for an opera he and Dusch hit upon
' Der Freischiitz,' a story by Apel, then just pub-
lished, and Dusch set to work to turn it into
a libretto. For the present however it did not
get beyond the beginning ; not till seven years
later did Weber begin the work which made
his reputation. He succeeded in bringing out
'Silvana' at Frankfort on Sept. i6, 1810, ^ when,
in spite of unpropitious circumstances, it pro-
duced a very favourable impression. The part
of Silvana was taken by Caroline Brandt, Weber's
future wife ; and Margarethe Lang was the
first soprano. Having completed by Oct. 1 7 six
easy sonatas for piano and violin, for which
Andr^ had given him a commission, Weber soon
after set out for Offenbach, but had the mortifi-
cation of having them refused, on the ground
that they were too good for Andre's purpose.'
At Andrt^'s he saw for the first time an auto-
graph of Mozart's, and his behaviour on the
occasion touchingly expressed his unbounded
veneration for Mozart's genius. He laid it
carefully on the table, and on bended knees
pressed his forehead and lips to it, gazed at it
with tears in his eyes, and then handed it back
with the words, ' Happy the paper on which
his hand has rested ! '

For a short time there seemed a prospect
of Weber's securing a permanent appointment
in his beloved Mannheim. At a concert there
on Nov. 19, he produced his remodelled overture

2 According to the register of the theatre. Jfihns, p. 103.

3 Tublished later by Simrock of Bonn.




to ' Peter Schmoll,' and played for the first time
his PF. Concei-to in C, completed on Oct. 4.
Among the audience was Princess Stephanie of
Baden, whose father, the Crown-Prince Ludwig
of Bavaria, Weber had met a few months before
at Baden-Baden. The Prince had been de-
lighted with him, and had walked about with
him all night, while he sang serenades to his
guitar. The Princess also was anxious to hear
him in this capacity, and after the concert he
sang her a number of his best songs to the
guitar, making so great an impression that she
promised to procure him the post of Capellmeister
in Mannheim, or make him an allowance of
1000 gulden from her privy purse. All this
however ended in nothing, for a few weeks
later he received a message from the Princess
to say that she found her promise had been
made too hastily.

The cause of Weber's so soon giving up the
• Freischiitz,' which Dusch was to prepare for
him, was that he had been busy for some time
with a new opera, or rather comic Singspiel, in
one act, called ' Abu Hassan,' the libretto of
which Franz Hiemer sent him, March 29, 1810,
from Stuttgart. He composed one number,
the Creditors' chorus, at Mannheim, Aug. 11,
left it untouched till Nov. i, and completed
it at Darmstadt, Jan. 12, 1811. By Vogier's
advice the work was dedicated to the Grand
Duke Ludwig, who, although an enthusiastic
devotee and connoisseur of music (he used to
conduct tiie rehearsals at the opera himself) had
hitherto declined to have much to do with
Weber, possibly because the latter had not
shown sufficient deference to his authority on
matters of art. Now he seemed much more
kindly disposed, sent a handsome fee for the
score, and gave permission for a concert at
the Schloss (Feb. 6, 181 1), himself taking 120
tickets. For it Weber composed an Italian duet
for two altos (Mesdames Mangold and Schtin-
berger) and small orchestra, with clarinet obli-
gato, played by Heinrich Barmann of Munich.
The duet pleased greatly, and was encored, but
all this success did not end in a permanent
apjDointment, as Weber had at one time hoped
would be the case. Meyerbeer had left on Feb.
12 for a tour ; outside the court the inhabitants
had little feeling for music ; Weber did not care
to be left wholly to Vogler; and on Feb. 14 he
finally left a place where he had never felt
thoroughly at home, and started on a grand

At this period he often felt sorely the rest-
less, uncertain conditions of his life, the incon-
stant nature of all human relations, and the
loneliness to which he seemed doomed by the
sudden snatching away of friends as soon as he
became attached to them. During his last visit
but one to Mannheim, he composed a song
called ' Webtr's Abschied'^ (Dec. 8, 1810) to
words by Dusch. Some of the verses may be
thus paraphrased : —

> Published later by Schlesinger of Berlin as 'Des Kiinstlers

TTpon the stM-my sea, away, ^

Tempest-tossed I'm driven, j

!No home where I can safely stay, 1

No rest, to me is given. j

Wherever kindly hearts I find, ■ \

There would I gladly dwell, , j

And all my woes of heart and mind ' j

Kind fate might thus dispel. ' j

Full many a loyal-hearted friend, V
Now here, now there, I've won,
Th' impatient Hours our converse end, I
And bear me on and on.

At Darmstadt on the night of January i;j
iSii, he wrote down more connectedly some <
the thoughts which surged through his mine
His childhood came up before him, and his lif.
so full of disappointments, and so near failurt
' My path in life,' says he, ' was cast from m
birth in different lines to that of any oth(
human being ; I have no happy childish days t
look back upon, no free open boyhood ; thoug
still a youth I am an old man in experieno
learning everything through my own feeling
and by myself, nothing by means of others.'^ T
Gansbacher he writes a few months later, ' Yo
live in the midst of your own people, I stan
alone ; think then how much a word from yo
refreshes and revives me.' His elastic temperi
ment however soon recovered itself, as th
smallest piece of good fortune was enough t
feed his hopes, and the consciousness that b
had at last laid firm hold of Art — his own pre
per aim in life — was a constant encouragemen
Nothing could distract him from this, nor froi
the continuous endeavour to work out his moH
education. The touching tone of piety an
trust which runs through his later life is noi
fii-st noticeable. He closes the year 1810 wit
the following avowal: 'God has sent me man
vexations and disappointments, but He has als
thrown me with many good kind people, \vh
have made life worth living. I can say honest!
and in all quietness, that within the last te
months I have become a hotter man.'

Weber travelled through Frankfort to Giesser
where he gave a well-attended concert on Feb. i'
and Hanau, where he saw a 'bad play' on tb
23rd ; went next day to Aschaffenburg, where h
stayed two days, and made acquaintance wit
Sterkel, an adherent of Vogier's ; and by March
was at Wiirzburg. Thence he went to Bambert
where he met E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Baderth
tenor, both of whom reappear in the Freischiil
period; and by Nuremberg and Augsburg t
Munich, arriving March 14. Here he staye
nearly five months, finding powerful stimulr.
in the society of Barmann, the gi-eatest clarine

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 95 of 194)