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 96 of 194)
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player of his time, for whom he wrote withi
the next few months no less than three concerto:
The first, in C minor and E b,^ was played at h:
first concert (April 5) as well as his PF. Concert!
one of his symphonies, and the 'Erster Ton
Biirmann played the second,* in F minor, at
concert given by Kaufmann thepianoforte-makf
of Dresden (June 13), and again at Weber
second (Aug. 7). These compositions procure

2 Nohl's Musikerbriefe. 195.

3 Known as the Concertino, Op. 26, Jahns. Xo, 109.
* Concerto No, 1, Op, 73. Julins, Xo. 114,



WEBER.

a warm adherents, not only among the general
jlic, but also in the Munich orchestra, cele-
ited for its haughty reserve. One of the
id having spoken slightingly of the F minor
icerto at rehearsal as an 'amateur work/
! rest fell upon him, and would have turned
a bodily out of the orchestra if Weber had
; interposed. There was also a successful
'formance of 'Abu Hassan' on June 4, and
ring the preparations Weber learned that it
3 to be given before the court at Ludwigsburg
the beginning of May, but not under his
ne. ' Is not that miserable ? ' he writes to
ttfried Weber, ' and how stupid ! all the
)ers will announce it as mine. Item, God's
1 be done.' On August 9 he started for a
r in Switzerland, during which he gave
iself up to the enjoyment of nature rather
,n of music. By the beginning of November
was again in Munich, and gave a brilliantly
cessful concert on the nth. For it he had
nposed a new concert-rondo, which he after-
rds used for the finale to the Clarinet-con-
to in Eb, ' and remodelled the overture to
iibezahl,' a piece of work which he declared
be the clearest and most powerful of anything

had yet done. Besides these he composed
ae vocal pieces, chiefly for his patroness Queen
roline, and a complete Bassoon-concerto (op.
I for Brandt, the court-player. On Dec. 1 he
rted again, this time in company with Bar-
nn, for Central and North Germany,
[n Prague he met Giinsbacher, then living
ire, formed some ties which became of im-
•tance when he settled there later, composed
•iations for PF. and clarinet on a theme from
Ivana' (op. 33), and gave with Barmann a
gely attended concert on Dec. 21. Passing
■ough Dresden they arrived, Dec. 27, at
ipzig, where Weber met Eochlitz and other
isical authors, and fostered his own ineli-
tion for literary work. Indeed, so strong
iS this that he seriously thought of staying

Leipzig and devoting himself exclusively
literature. His ideas, however, soon took a
Ferent turn. The Crown Prince Ludwig

Bavaria, on whom he had evidently made

deep impression, had written about him
Duke Emil Leopold August of Saxe Gotha,
d the result was an invitation for himself
d Barmann to Gotha, where they arrived
n, 17, 181 2, The Duke was devoted to the
;a, a poet and composer, but whimsical
d given to extremes — in fact a Jean-Paul
id of man, and a great admirer of Jean-
.ul's works. Intercourse with him was excit-
? but very wearing, as Weber discovered,
■hough just now it was only for a short time
^t he enjoyed the privilege of almost uninter-
pted access to him. The Duke took great
3asure in his society, but, having at the time
my claims on his time, invited Weber to return

the autumn and make a longer stay. In
)tha Weber met Spohr, who since 1805 had
en Concertmeister — the court had then no

> Concerto No. 2, Op. 74. Jfihns, No. 118.



WEBER.



397



opera — and had married in 1806 Dorette Scheid-
ler, a harpist, and daughter of Madame Scheidler,
the court-singer. Spohr had not retained a very
favourable impression of Weber's music at
Stuttgart, but received him in true brotherly
fashion. On Jan. 20 they passed some pleasant
hours together at Spohr's house, and on the
24th played before the court Weber's variations
on a Norwegian theme (op. 22), on which Weber
remarks in his diary 'Spohr played gloriously.'
From Gotha the two musicians went to Weimar,
were kindly received at court, and gave a concert.
If Weber had been hoping for inspiration from
Weimar's great poets, his only chance was with
Wieland, for Goethe behaved coldly, or rather
took no notice at all of him. His diary contains
an entry ' Jan. 29. Early to the Princess.
[Maria Paulowna.] Goethe there and spoke.
I did not like him.' Spohr indeed had met with
scarcely better treatment some little time before,
but this may have arisen from Goethe's lack of
interest in music. Weber he was personally
prejudiced against, possibly because of former
circumstances about his father and his family,
and the feeling was fostered by Zelter. In
deed Weber never succeeded in approaching
Goethe.

By the beginning of February Weber and Bar-
mann were in Dresden, but left it with no very
favourable impression ; indeed, they are reported
to have said, ' Dresden shall not catch us again '
— very contrary to the fact, as far as Weber was
concerned. On Feb. 20 they arrived in Berlin,
where Weber had hopes of producing ' Silvana.'
It had been tried through some months before
by Righini, but 'went so confusedly that all
pronounced it perfect rubbish.'^ He had
thus to meet a prejudice against his woi-k,
and, still worse, a personal one of the Capell-
meister's against himself. Bernhard Anselm
Weber especially, an able and cultivated man,
and himself a pupil of Vogler's, was by no
means kindly disposed to his young comrade ;
but difficulties were gradually overcome, two
arias were added, and the performance took
place on July 10. Weber conducted in person,
and succeeded in inspiring both band and singers,
and the public gave the work a warm reception,
in spite of its startling novelty. Weber had
been much depressed by some sharp criticism
of Herr von Drieberg's, and had rigidly tested
his work, so he was much encouraged by its
success. He writes in his diary, ' While duly
acknowledging my faults. I will not in future
lose confidence in myself, but bravely, pru-
dently, and watchfully march onwards on my
art-career.' Even before this he had made
many friends in Berlin, and the two concerts
given by himself and Barmann, though not
well-attended, had roused great interest. He
was introduced to the ' Singakademie ' and the
'Liedertafel,' and wrote for the latter a compo-
sition which even gained the approval of Zelter.'
Meyerbeer's parents from the first treated him

2 Weber to Gansbacher.

> < Das lurnierbaukett,' JAhQs, No. 132.



398



WEBER.



as a son, and he stayed in their house the whole
time he was in Berlin. His most valuable
acquaintance was Lichtenstein, Professor of
Zoology, who was the first to recognise his genius
in Berlin. As one of the foremost members of the
Singakademie he had no difficulty in introducing
Weber to cultivated and musical families, where
he soon became a favourite for his pleasant
manners, his admirable pianoforte-playing and
extemporising, his inspiriting way of leading
concerted music, and above all his charming
songs and his guitar. For these private circles
he composed five charming part-songs. He used
often to play to his new friends, with an almost
inexhaustible variety of nuances, his Sonata in C,
composed in Berlin. He himself taught (on
Aug. 26) the soldiers at the barracks near the
Oranienburg gate, to sing his 'Kriegs-Eid,' a
chorus for men's voices with wind instruments
in unison, which he dedicated to the Branden-
burg Brigade. While he was in Berlin his old
fnther died at Mannheim (April 16, 1812), an
event which brought back in full force his
homelessness and loneliness, and made him
touchingly grateful for any proof of friend-
ship. Barmann had left him on March 28 for
Munich, and on Aug. 31 he himself also left
Berlin, stayed some few days in Leipzig, where
he found a publisher for some of his compo-
sitions, and had a talk with Rochlitz, and then,
passing through Weimar, arrived on Sept. 6 at
Gotha.

The Duke's treatment was politeness itself,
but instead of having, as he hoped, a quiet time
for composition, Weber found the constant
attendance on the Duke's inspired moments
exciting and exhausting. In the midst of this
he received an invitation from the Princess
Maria Paulowna, to come to Weimar, and teach
her some of his works, including the Sonata
in C, which he had dedicated to her. On this
subject he writes to Lichtenstein (Nov. i),
'The Princess often says that she does not
believe she will ever play the sonata properly as
long as she lives. If she were not a Princess,
I should be at liberty to tell her that I fidly
agree with her.' He had to give her a lesson
each morning for a week, and the rest of his
time he spent with the company at the theatre,
among whom P. A. Wolf specially attracted him,
and with Wieland, who was a sympathetic
listener to his playing. One of the effects which
Weber carried to a pitch of excellence never
heard before, was a long crescendo, beginning
with an almost inaudible pianissimo, and passing
through every gradation of loudness up to a
thundering fortissimo. The effect of this was
irresistible, and Wieland, having asked for it,
found himself gradually drawn off his chair as
by some demoniacal agency. In Gotha he had
much stimulating intercourse witli Spohr, and
also with Albert Methfessel, then passing
through. His diary contains some interesting
remarks on Spohr's compositions. Thus the even-
ing of Sept. 16 was pass&d in going with Spohr
through the latter's ' Last Judgment ' (produced



WEBER.

at Erfurt, Aug. 15). Weber did not much lii(
the work, and calls it ' laboured, tedious, full
unnecessary modulations, and modelled entire
after Mozart.' On Sept. 27, however, he writ<
' Spohr played his new Quartet in G minor ve
finely ; it is well-composed ; much flow ai
unity. Afterwards a fine Sonata with his wifi
At Spohr's he also met Hermstadt, the clarim
pLiyer from Sondershausen, who played a Co
certo of Spohr's in masterly style, but seems
have been inferior to Barmann in purity of toi
and expression. As a rule, the quick-witte
far-seeing Weber was juster towards Spolu
compositions than the more ponderous and shoi
sighted Spohr was to his. But personal dislik
never lasted with Spohr. He could distingui
between a man and his work, and was alwa
a loyal friend to Weber.

The Duke's younger brother. Prince Friedric
an admirer of Italian music, had brought
singing-master back with him from Italy, ai
often had Weber to go through Italian opei
with him. He had a good tenor voice, and i
him Weber composed an Italian tcena ed on
with chorus, from an opera ' Ines de Castro,' p«
formed at a court -concert on Dec. 17- 0th
works written at Gotha were the celebrated P
Variations on a theme from M^hul's 'Joseph,' t
first two movements of the PF. Concerto in E
and a hymn, 'In seiner Ordnung schafftderHer
to Rochlitz's words. Spohr having receDt
started on a concert-tour, Weber left Gotl
on Dec. 19, for Leipzig, where he produced tl
hymn at a Gewandhaus Concert (Jan. I, 181;
and played the Eb Concerto, 'with a succes
he writes himself, ' such as was perhaps scarce
ever known in Leipzig before. It is pronounc
to be the first of Concertos for effect and no veil
Truly these people, once so cold, have qui
adopted me.' Thus the new year opened to hi
under happy auspices.

This year, 181 3, was the greatest turnin
point in Weber's short career. Hitherto 1
life had been that of a wandering minsti
or troubadour. Roving restlessly from place
place, winning all hearts by his sweet, i
sinuating, lively melodies, his eccentriciti
making him an imposing figure to the young
both sexes, and an annoyance to the old, e
citing the attention of everybody, and then si
denly disappearing, his person uniting in t
most seductive manner aristocratic bearing a
tone with indolent dissipation, his moods altt
nating between uproarious spirits and de
depression — in all ways he resembled a figt
from some romantic poem, wholly unlike ar
thing seen before in the history of Germ
art. In talking of Weber, people have
their minds, as a rule, only the last peri
of his life, beginning with 'Der Freischiil
and ending with ' Oberon,' but from that poi
of view the work becomes too prominent, a
the man of too little importance. As a m
his versatile gifts made more effect in the fi
half of his artistic career than in the secoi
His artistic wanderings gave the keynote



WEBER.



WEBER.



399



ideal life of Germany at that period,
[ for the first time rounded it off, so to
ak, into a full chord. The love of the antique,
3ther in history, the life of the people, or
ional melody, was then newly awakened, and
e its stamp to the period, not only in know-
je and matters of art, but in manners, in-
idual and social. Thus Weber became the
jodiment of the ancient troubadour who, in
hendorff's words, went through the country,
jing his melodies from house to house.
n 1813 this roving life came to an end,
[ was succeeded by a settled existence, with
I of place and circumstance, and definite
ies. The wandering impulse was indeed

ingrained in his nature not to have a
•et influence on his after life, but hence-
,h it was sufficiently under control to admit of
b coUectedness of spirit, without which the
ition of great and enduring works of art is
lossible. On Jan. 12, 181 3, Weber arrived at
,gue, intending to go on by Vienna to
lice, Milan, and the rest of Italy, and then
k through Switzerland and France. This tour
calculated to take fully two years, and from
e hoped for great results. At Prague, how-
r, there was a vacancy in the Capellmeister-
3 of the theatre, owing to Wenzel Miiller's
gnation. Liebich, the director, knew Weber's
ae, and offered him the post, with a salary of

gulden (about £200), a furlough of two or
ee months, an annual benefit guaranteed at
10 gulden, and absolute independence at the
3ra. This gave him not only a fixed income, but
prospect of paying off the debts contracted at
jslau and Stuttgart, a decisive considera-

1 to a man of his honourable nature. The
nd tour, planned with so much expectation,
5 given up, and Liebich's offer accepted.
V^enzel Miiller, admirably adapted for the
er forms of national opera, was not the man
be at the head of an institution whose main
ect was to foster dramatic music of a higher
er. Under his direction the Opera had de-
iorated to such a degree that Liebich deter-
led to disband the company and entirely
rganise it. For this task he selected Weber.
!senting himself afresh to the public of
igue at a brilliantly-attended concert on
irch 6, he started for Vienna on the 27th,
nished with full powers to engage good
sicians and German singers.^ In Vienna

met Meyerbeer, heard Hummel and Mo-
leles, whose playing he thought 'fine, but

smooth,' and gave a concert of his own on
ril 25, but was principally occupied with the
in object of his journey. The whole company,
ih the exception of three members, was new,
i included Caroline Brandt, Weber's future
'e. He entirely reorganised the whole sys-
a, and developed a marvellous capacity for
it kind of work. It now became evident that
ivas not in vain that he had passed his child-
)d behind the scenes, and been an Opera-
pellmeister at 18. His wide experience and

I The Italian Opera of Prague ceased to exist in 1806.



energy helped him to conquer the singers and
musicians, who were at first amazed hy his
strictness and the inflexibility of his rules.
Among them were a number of Bohemians, and
in order to be able to grumble at him with im-
punity, they talked to each other at rehearsal in
Bohemian. This Weber soon perceived, and
set to work to learn the languasre, which in a
few months he had mastered sufficiently for his
purpose. Not only did he manage, atxange, and
direct the music even to the smallest details, but
he also superintended the administration, the
scene-painting, and the stage-management, and
proved to demonstration that all these were
really within his province. So completely
were all theatrical details at his fingers'-ends,
that on the prompter's sudden illness, Weber
supplied his place. By this means he en-
sured an accuracy and a unity in all the
dramatic representations, such as had never
been seen before, and which the public did not
fail to recognise. He was perhaps quite as great
a conductor as a composer, and was the first of
the great German musicians whose talent was
conspicuous in this direction. In this matter also
he was a virtuoso. The first opera he put on the
stage at Prague was Spontini's ' Cortez ' (Sept.
lo, 1813), then produced for the first time there.
Between that date and Dec. 19 followed seven,
and between that and March 27, ten, newly-
studied operas and singspiele. Of each he made
a scenario, including the smallest details.

His aim was to reinstate the Prague opera
in the position it occupied between 1780 and
1 790, when it could almost have competed with
Vienna, and was at any rate among the best in
Germany. He was quite the man to do it,
if only the times had been the same ; but un-
fortunately this was not the case. During the
war, society ceased to cultivate music, and
lost its powers of discrimination, and the
only way of keeping up its traditional reputation
for taste was to maintain a dignified reserve on
all artistic productions. Weber, accustomed to
more sympathy, soon discovered this, and
it put him out of tune. Besides, he had
not managed to form comfortable relations
for himself. Gansbacher had left, and Weber,
to whom a friend was an absolute necessity, felt
deserted. With the Prague musicians Kotzeluch,
Dionys Weber, Tomaschek,^ and others, he did not
hit it off. For a time he struggled in vain
against an attachment for a ballet-girl, who was
quite unworthy of his affection. The real cause
of his discomfort, however, was that he could
not at once fall into the regular ways of pro-
fessional life. He was like a bird, which had
once flown freely in the open air, but was now
caged. Passages in his letters make this clear.
' My incessant occupation, and my life of utter
solitude, have made me morose, gloomy, and mis-
anthropical. If Heaven does not soon thrust me

J Weber's diary contains a remark on him which is worth reading.
' March 27. To Tomaschelf' s. He played me 12 Eclogues, 1 Sonata.
2 Airs. 1 Concerto, and 1 Symphony, till I was quite exhausted. Are
all composers possessed of the devil when they get to their own
worlu ? and Is It the same with me ? God forbid.'



400



WEBER.



violently back among my fellow-men, I shall
become the most abominable Philistine on the face
oftheearth' (Jan. 29, 1814). 'Tlie few composers
and scholars who live here groan for tlie most
part under a yoke, which has reduced them to
slavery, and taken away the spirit which dis-
tinguishes the true free-born artist' (May ^).
The outward advantages of his position he fully
acknowledged. 'I reason myself by main force
into a sort of contentment, but the naturally
cheerful state of mind which steels all one's
nerves, and sends one's spirits bubbling up of
themselves, that one cannot give oneself
(April 22).

After bringing out seven more operas between
April 19 and June 26 (1814), Weber, who had
been out of health for some time, went on July 8 to
take the baths at Liebwerda. But the impulse to
join the great world was too strong to allow
hira to stay there, and, pushing on, he arrived
in Berlin on Aug. 3, a couple of days before the
King of Prussia's return from the Allied Armies'
victorious expedition to Paris after the battle of
Leipzig. Unlike Prague, where a few oflBcial cere-
monies formed all the notice taken of the great
victory over Napoleon, Berlin was in a tumult
of joy, and Weber had before him the spectacle
of a great people hailing their reconquered free-
dom with transport. He was carried away like
the rest, and thoroughly enjoyed it. To in-
crease his happiness he met with an enthusiastic
reception from his friends, whose circle now
included Tieck and Erentano, with whom he had
formed an intimacy in Prague in 1813. Eren-
tano began to arrange a libretto on the Tann-
hauser legend for him, but other things in-
tervened, and the work was laid aside. He
gave a concert on Aug. 24, and received
permission to invite the King, the Crown-
Prince, and other princes and princesses.
Several great personages were interested in him,
and there was some talk of making him Capell-
meister of the Court Opera, in place of Hinimel,
who had just died. 'Silvana' was given again
on Sept. 5, and Weber left Berlin, happy in
many a proof of heartfelt sympatliy, and loaded
with impressions destined to bear fruit later on.

At that period patriotic songs were naturally
enough the order of the day, and in this
direction Weber could hardly fail to be led. An
invitation from the Duke took him to Gotha on
Sept. II, and the next day to Grafentonna, the
Duke's hunting-seat. Here, finding a little re-
pose for the first time for many months, he com-
posed on the I3tli two Lieder from Korner's
' Leyer und Schwert,' followed by eight others
during the journey home and in the first few
months after his return. Six of these are for
four men's voices, and four for a single voice and
PP., and in them he has recorded the impres-
bions made on his mind by the surging national
movement. It was his first opportunity of show-
ing how great a power he had of absorbing
the feelings of the masses and giving them
artistic expression. The effect of these songs on
the whole people of Germany, and especially



WEBER.

on the youth, was extraordinary. Wlierev
they were sung they roused the most ferv
enthusiasm. AH the other patriotic com]
sitions, in which the time abounded, pal
before the brilliancy, swing, and pathos of the
Songs of W^ar and Fatherland. Weber's ov
cantata even yields to them in effect. T
choruses from the ' Leyer und Schwert ' a
still among the most favourite of such vvor
for men's voices, and are indeed so boui
up with the development of the male choi
societies in Germany that only with them c
they cease to be heard.

Before his trip to Berlin Weber had enter
into closer relations with Caroline Erani
but there were difficulties in the way of niarriat
Caroline, a talented soubrette, and a good dt
spoiled by the public, was somewhat whinisici
and had imperfect views both as to the dignity
art in itself, and Weber's importance as an arti
Neither did she like his requiring her to lea
the stage before they married. This uncertain
about an object he so ardently desired added
his discontent with Prague, and made hi
anxiously look out for some opening whi
should lead to his removal. In the nieantir
he made use of his summer holiday in 1815 i
an expedition to Munich, and it was there th
the news of the battle of Waterloo reached hii
The outburst of joy and enthusiasm which i
lowed incited him toagreat composition in hono
of the event. Gottfried Wohlbriick the act
provided him with the words, and in Augu:
before leaving Munich, he wrote the first U
numbers of 'Kampf und Sieg.' The last t\
days of his stay were embittered by a letter frc
Caroline, conveying her conviction that they h;
better part. This seems to justify what Wei
had written to Gansbacher, ' I see now that h
views of high art are not above the usual pitil
standard — namely, that art is but a means
procuring soup, meat, and shirts.' Her 'conv
tion' however did not last long. When Wei
returned to Prague her real affection for h
overcame all scruples, and he was able to lo
forward with confidence to a time when s
should be all his own. ' Lina,' he write
' is behaving extremely well, and honestly tryi
to become better. If God will only bestow
me some post without cares, and with a sala
on which a man can live ; and if she is as brave
a 3'ear and a day as she is at this moment, she
to leave the stage, and become my faithful i7ai
/raw. You shake your head ! A year is a lo
time, and a person who can hold out so long
really brave.' The cantata was quickly coi
pleted, and performed for the first time at Webe
benefit concert (Dec. 22). The immediate efft
was very great, though, for reasons hereafter
be explained, not so lasting as that of t
Kbrner songs. Beethoven had composed one of 1
great orchestral pictures in honour of the bat
of Vittoria, and this had been performed shon
before in Prague. At the close of ' Kampf u
Sieg,' General Nostiz went up to Weber and s£

I To Gansbacher, Aug. 4. ItlS.



WEBER.

^th you I hear nations speaking, with Beetho-

only big boys playing with rattles.' This
cism, though too severe on Beethoven, has in
ements of justice, for in this piece cC occasion



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 96 of 194)