Home » personalities » Karl Weber - reformer of 19th century German opera

Karl Weber - reformer of 19th century German opera

personalities : Karl Weber - reformer of 19th century German opera
Karl Maria Friedrich von Weber

Karl Weber, cousin of Mozart’s wife, Constance, studied music from childhood. He left his mark as a pianist, and then as the musical director of the theaters in Prague and Dresden.

All the best, viable, democratic in romanticism (aesthetic ideas, new stylistic features of literary and musical works) received its original implementation in Weber's work.

As a composer, he is especially known as the author of the first significant German romantic opera, The Free Shooter.

The content of the article

  • Weber's wandering musical childhood
  • Theater in the life of a young composer
    • The last, Dresden period of Weber's life

Weber's wandering musical childhood

Karl Maria Friedrich von Weber was born in the small town of Eitin in Holstein, in the north of Germany, on December 18, 1786 in the family of a passionate music lover, entrepreneur of wandering drama troupes Franz Anton Weber.

The childhood of the future composer was closely connected with the atmosphere and atmosphere of the nomadic provincial German theater, which later determined, on the one hand, the composer’s interest in musical and dramatic genres, and on the other, his professional knowledge of the laws of the stage and a subtle sense of the specifics of musical and dramatic art.

As a child, Weber showed equal interest in music and painting.

Weber's first acquaintance with music was carried out under the guidance of his father and older brother Edmund. In early childhood, the future composer showed equal interest in music and painting. Despite the difficulties arising from the frequent relocation of the family from one city to another, Franz Anton Weber sought to give his son a professional musical education.

In 1796, in Maria Hildburghausen, Carl Maria took piano lessons from I.P. Geishkel, in 1797 and in 1801 in Salzburg he studied the basics of counterpoint under the guidance of Mikhail Haydn, in 1798-1800 he worked in Munich with the court organist I.N Calcher and singing by I.E. Walesi (Wallishauser).

In 1798, under the guidance of Mikhail Haydn, Weber wrote six fughettes for clavier - the first independent opus of the composer. This was followed by a large number of new compositions in different genres:

  • six variations on the original theme
  • twelve allemands and six ecosises for clavier
  • great youth mass Es-dur
  • some songs for voice and piano
  • comic canons for three voices
  • opera The Power of Love and Wine (1798)
  • unfinished opera "Silent Forest Girl" (1800)
  • singspiel “Peter Schmoll and his neighbors” (1801), approved by Michael Haydn

A great shift in the creative development of the composer came in 1803, when, after wandering around many cities in Germany, Weber arrived in Vienna, where he met with the famous music teacher Abbot Fogler. The latter, noting gaps in Weber's musical-theoretical education, demanded a lot of painstaking work from the young man. In 1804, on the recommendation of Vogler, the seventeen-year-old Weber received the position of director of music (bandmaster) in the Breslavl opera house. From this moment a new period (1804-1816) began in the life and work of the composer.

Theater in the life of a young composer

This was one of the most important periods in the evolution of Weber, when his worldview and aesthetic views took shape, and composer's talent entered a time of bright prosperity.

Working with troupes of opera houses, Weber discovered outstanding conducting skills.

Working with troupes of opera houses in Breslavl, Prague, Weber discovered the outstanding conducting skills and talent of the organizer of musical and theatrical affairs. Already in Breslavl, at the very beginning of his conducting activity, Weber established a new procedure for placing musicians in an opera orchestra - according to groups of instruments. Weber anticipated the principle of placing instruments in the orchestra, which would become characteristic of the whole of the XIX and, to a certain extent, of the XX century.

The eighteen-year-old conductor boldly and principally carried out his innovations, in spite of the sometimes stubborn resistance of singers and musicians who adhered to the old traditions that had developed in the provincial German theaters.

The years 1807-1810 include the beginning of Weber's literary and musical-critical activities. He writes articles, reviews of plays, musical works, annotations to his compositions, begins the novel “The Life of a Musician” (1809).

In the works that appeared during the first period of Weber's independent creative life (1804-1816), the features of the composer's future mature style are gradually revealed. During this period of creativity, Weber's most significant works of art are associated with the musical and dramatic genre:

  • romantic opera Sylvanas (1810)
  • Singspiel "Abu Hasan" (1811)
  • two cantatas and two symphonies (1807)
  • a number of overtures and many instrumental works in other genres
  • many separate arias, songs, choirs, among which the cycle of heroic songs “Lear and the Sword” to the words of Theodor Körner (1814, op. 41-43) stands out

Thus, when in early 1817, Weber took the position of bandmaster of the German Opera in Dresden, he was already fully prepared for the struggle for the approval of the German national musical and dramatic art. In the same year, he married one of his former singers, Caroline Brandt.

The last, Dresden period of Weber's life

The last, Dresden period of Weber's life (1817-1826) is the pinnacle in the work of the composer. His organizational and conducting activities took on an intense character here. The centuries-old traditions of the existence of the Italian opera house in Dresden, the active opposition of the conductor of the Italian opera company F. Morlacchi, the resistance of court circles - all this complicated the work of Weber. Despite this, in an unusually short time, Weber was able not only to assemble the German opera company, but also to deliver a number of excellent performances (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”, “The Figaro's Wedding” by Mozart, “Fidelio” by the forces of a new (and in many ways professionally insufficiently trained) collective. "Beethoven, " The Jessond "Spur and many others).

During this period of Weber's activity, he wrote and delivered the best works. Among them, the first place is taken by the opera “Free shooter”.

The story, rooted in folklore, is about a man who sold his soul to the devil for a few magic bullets, which allowed him to win the competition of shooters, and with him the hand of the beautiful lady whom he loved. The opera first presented everything that was familiar and sweet to the heart of every German. A simple village life with its rude humor and sentimental naivety. The surrounding forest, whose gentle smile hides supernatural horror. And above all - characters: from funny hunters and village girls to a simple, valiant hero and prince who ruled over them.

The opera “Free shooter” made Weber a national hero

All this merged with melodic, delightful music and turned into a mirror in which every German could find his reflection. With the help of Freedom Shooter, Weber was not only able to free German opera from French and Italian influence, but also laid the foundations of one of the main forms of opera of the 19th century. The brilliant victory of the triumphal premiere of the genius "Free Gunner" (June 18, 1821 in Berlin) marked Weber's major achievements on his chosen path, making him a national hero.

Weber then proceeded to create the comic opera Three Pinto, which remained incomplete. Work on the new opera was interrupted by composing music for the play by P.A. Wolf "Preciosa" (1820), in 1823 the first big heroic-romantic opera Euryantha written for Vienna appeared. She was an ambitious project and a great achievement, but failed due to an unsuccessful libretto.

In 1826, Weber's brilliant series of opera works worthily completed the fabulous Oberon set in London. The motive for creating this opera was the desire to provide a family so that after his death (which, he knew, was not far off) they could continue a comfortable life.

In 1826, Weber's brilliant series of opera works worthily completed the fabulous Oberon

In the form of "Oberon" there was little of Weber's style, the structure was heavy for the composer, who advocated the merger of the theater arts with opera. But it was this opera that he filled with the most exquisite music. Despite the rapidly passing health, Weber went to the premiere of his work. Oberon was recognized, the composer was honored, but he could hardly walk. Shortly before his planned return to Germany, on June 5, he was found dead in his room.

Opera Reformer C. Weber

In Weber's top musical and dramatic works - "Free Arrow", "Euryante" and "Oberon" - the best features of the talent of the composer, the maturity of his creative thought, bold innovation were manifested. Weber strongly affirmed the vitality of the new musical and dramatic genre.

Moreover, in each of his works, Weber created a certain type of romantic opera: in Freyschutz - a fabulous folk opera, in Euryant - a legendary knightly opera, in Oberon - fabulously fantastic.

Leave Your Comment