Carl Maria von Weber

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Carl Maria von Weber, Portrait by Caroline Bardua , 1821
Bust in the Weberhain Eutin
Monument in Eutin

Carl Maria von Weber (full name Carl [Maria] Fri [e] drich Ernst [von] Weber ; born November 18 or 19, 1786 in Eutin , Lübeck bishopric ; † June 5, 1826 in London ) was a German composer , conductor and pianist of romanticism .


The house where Carl Maria von Weber was born in Eutin

Carl Maria von Weber was the first of three children of Franz Anton von Weber (1734–1812) and his second wife, the opera singer and actress Genovefa Weber (1764–1798). He was baptized Catholic on November 20, 1786 in the Eutin Palace Chapel with the first name Carl Friedrich Ernst; the additional name Maria is only recorded in later years. His mother's ancestors came from Marktoberdorf , his father's from Stetten (Lörrach) . Franz Fridolin Weber , a half-brother of his father, was the father of Mozart's wife Constanze . Carl Maria was a cousin by marriage of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart .

Franz Anton von Weber came to Eutin in 1779 as the prince-bishop's court orchestra leader and, after the court orchestra was closed due to austerity in 1781, changed to the office of Eutin town musician. Dissatisfied with this, he left this service in 1787 and tried several times over the next decade to found a traveling theater company. His children from his first marriage also worked as musicians, singers and actors. All of these foundations failed after a few years. He used his title of nobility appropriately, because the lineage from which he derived his origin was extinct. From birth, Carl Maria suffered from a malformation of the hip. He didn't learn to walk until he was four, when he was already a singer and piano player. From 1796 Franz Anton devoted himself above all to the musical training of his son Carl Maria in the hope of being able to present him as a musical child prodigy. In Salzburg , where the family moved in autumn 1797, Michael Haydn , Joseph Haydn's brother , taught him composition from 1798. The Salzburg period was overshadowed by the death of Carl Maria's mother Genovefa on March 13, 1798, who died of tuberculosis . Carl Maria had received his first professional lessons in piano, harmony and composition from chamber musician Johann Peter Heuschkel , who was employed as organist , pianist and oboist in the chapel of Duke Friedrich in Hildburghausen .

After the mother's death, the family moved to Munich . After the family moved, Franz Anton wrote in a letter to Franz Kirms in Weimar on January 19, 1799: “My 11-year-old Karl is kissing my hands, a talent thank God! of the first genre, since he was already composing the first opera, a pupil of Michel Haydn. ... thank God! he is lucky that he is not called anything else here than little Mozardt. ”In Munich, Carl was tutored by Johann Evangelist Wallishauser (artist name: Valesi; singing) and Johann Nepomuk Kalcher (composition).

From autumn 1799 Carl Maria also acquired basic skills in lithography in the workshop of Alois Senefelder and Franz Gleißner . But father and son had their own lithography workshop in Freiberg , Saxony , but remained unsuccessful. There the opera Das Waldmädchen des Fourteen-year-olds was performed in 1800 , although it received little recognition.

The lessons with Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler in Vienna in 1803/04 and later again in Darmstadt , there together with his classmate Jakob Meyer Beer ( Giacomo Meyerbeer ), were decisive for Weber's later success as a composer .

Memorial plaque for Carl Maria von Weber on the facade of a house in Wroclaw

In 1804 Weber became Kapellmeister at the theater in Breslau on the recommendation of Vogler . Only at the age of seventeen and without experience did he gain great recognition through his serious rehearsal work. The experience in Wroclaw laid the foundation for Weber's later work as Kapellmeister in Prague and Dresden and established his reputation as a conductor .

But because his day-to-day duties at the theater left too little space for his own creative work, he decided not to extend his contract after two years. Until February 1807 he lived as a guest of the Prussian general Duke Eugen von Württemberg in his small castle in Carlsruhe near Opole . The general, who had fought against Napoleon , recommended Weber to Stuttgart to his brother Friedrich , who - allied with the French - had been made King of Württemberg by Napoleon. Weber did not find a job as a musician at court, but had to serve as secretary for another brother of the king, the " Duke Louis ", but therefore found time again for intensive composing.

Heavily indebted himself, Weber was drawn into a corruption affair in Stuttgart by his employer, so that he - together with his father - was expelled from Württemberg at the beginning of 1810. Franz Anton von Weber lived in Mannheim , where Carl Maria initially worked as a freelance pianist, conductor and composer, as in the following three years in Frankfurt, where his opera Silvana was premiered, and in Munich, where he played the clarinetist Heinrich Joseph Baermann who inspired him to write important works for this instrument. He found support now also at the court of Emil Leopold August, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and by middle class circles in Berlin.

In August 1810, Carl Maria founded the Harmonische Bund with Giacomo Meyerbeer , Gottfried Weber and Alexander von Dusch , which Johann Gänsbacher and later Carl Ludwig Roeck and Friedrich Wilhelm Berner joined shortly afterwards . The aim of the secretly working federation was to "elevate and draw out the good", which meant in particular the mutual support of works and evaluations through reviews that were also pseudonymously written. Even if the journalistic activity ceased after a few years, the members of the Confederation stayed with the address "brother" in letters.

From 1813 to 1816 Weber was the opera director at the Estates Theater in Prague. During this time he set several poems by Theodor Körner to music , including Franz Schubert (D. 205) Lützow's wild hunt . In the later 19th century this earned him the undeserved reputation of being a political composer. Musically, Weber's setting depicts an initially lurking, then galloping cavalry relay, not the noise of battle like Beethoven in Wellington's Victory or Tchaikovsky in the 1812 overture .


Carl Maria von Weber monument by Ernst Rietschel in front of the Zwinger on Theaterplatz in Dresden

From 1817 he worked as the Royal Kapellmeister and director of the German opera at the Dresden Court Theater . Heinrich Carl Graf Vitzthum von Eckstädt , the director of the musical band and the theater, was only able to enforce Weber's appointment against the resistance of the Saxon king and the minister, Count Einsiedel . The Italian opera of the court theater, which was favored by the court, was directed by Francesco Morlacchi , with whom Weber was also responsible for the church music at the Catholic court church . Both musicians were not only in lively competition with one another; They also worked closely together, as they also needed each other to represent each other on vacation, so that Weber also worked on opera productions for the "Italians" that were received with great acclaim.

On January 30, 1817 Weber had opened the new German opera department with a performance of Méhuls Joseph (under the title Jakob und seine Söhne ), just as he had previously done a “German opera schedule” in Prague with only adaptations of French titles due to a lack of suitable works could realize. In Dresden, Weber successfully continued the practice of systematically organized rehearsals that he had already begun in Breslau.

A few days after his arrival in Dresden, Weber's diary mentions the writer Friedrich Kind , whom Weber was able to inspire four weeks later to work on an opera, Freischütz . Their performance suddenly made Weber internationally famous.

The success of the free Protect the cordial agreement broke both. In 1817, immediately after starting work on the Freischützen, Weber bought the rights to the book for five years with a fee in order to avoid later disputes about the income. When the opera proved to be unexpectedly successful, Kind must have indicated a share in the proceeds as fair. When Weber immediately sent him the fee again, Kind refused the acceptance and did not reply to a letter with which Weber wanted to appease despite the different opinions. Only after years did their relationship improve again.


In 1817 Weber married the singer and actress Caroline Brandt , whom he had already met in Frankfurt in 1810 as Silvana in his opera of the same name and who had been engaged in Prague in 1813. The couple had three children:

  • Maria Caroline Friederike Auguste von Weber (born December 22, 1818 in Dresden, † April 28, 1819 in Dresden),
  • Philipp Christian Maximilian Maria von Weber (born April 25, 1822 in Dresden, † April 18, 1881 in Berlin) and
  • Alexander Heinrich Victor von Weber (born January 6, 1825 in Dresden, † October 31, 1844 in Dresden).

Her son Max Maria, as engineer and director of companies and as head of authorities, shaped the stormy development of the railways in Germany and Austria. In addition to a large number of specialist treatises on all questions relating to railways, he wrote a three-volume biography of his father, which is not always considered to be historically reliable. Our current knowledge is based on the sources and research results of the Carl Maria von Weber Complete Edition .

Writings, operas and compositions

Carl Maria von Weber, portrait of Ferdinand Schimon , 1825 - Dresden, Städtische Galerie

In today's Dresden district of Hosterwitz near Pillnitz , the Carl Maria von Weber Museum is located in the composer's former summer house. There he wrote essential parts of the operas Euryanthe and Oberon . Otherwise lived Weber in the city of Dresden, among others in the house Altmarkt  9. In his Dresden years created numerous instrumental works, including his most famous piano composition Invitation to the Dance . For the Saxon court he created numerous festive and tribute compositions as well as two masses.

Carl Maria von Weber's writings are important documents on the music and theater of his time. His musical and dramaturgical articles on his own works, but above all on those of his contemporaries, met with great interest. His incomplete novel, preserved in fragments, about an artist's life - with autobiographical features - testifies to his literary ambition.

Creation of the Freischütz

As musical director of the German Opera in Dresden, Weber came into contact with the lawyer and co-editor of the Dresdner Abendzeitung , Johann Friedrich Kind , who had made a name for himself as a versatile writer in the intellectual life of Dresden. Inspired by the ghost book , Weber created his most popular opera Der Freischütz , based on a libretto by a child , whose fateful drama corresponded to the zeitgeist of the time with its tendencies towards supernatural subjects. Originally, the opera had the working title "The Hunters Bride". The Seifersdorfer Carl Graf von Brühl (grandson of Heinrich von Brühl), who was director of the royal theaters in Berlin from 1815 to 1828, asked Weber several times to finish his opera and also gave the decisive hint that the opera should be called "Der Freischütz". Weber also visited Brühl in Seifersdorf and had a lively correspondence with the director. In a letter dated August 12, 1819, Weber asked for a visit to Seifersdorf and wanted Brühl to send his opera to Seifersdorf for review. Under the directorship of Carl Graf von Brühl and Weber's musical direction, Der Freischütz was premiered on June 18, 1821 in the Berlin Schauspielhaus on Gendarmenmarkt with sensational success. There was no further collaboration with Kind, as Weber did not feel that he was sufficiently involved in the financial success of the joint work. In 1986 DEFA made the film "Der Freischütz in Berlin" about the creation of the Freischütz and the collaboration between Weber and Brühl. This film was shot on locations including Seifersdorf was filmed and first broadcast on GDR television in 1987.

Paris, London and death

Carl Maria von Weber's grave in the Old Catholic Cemetery in Dresden

At the beginning of 1826 Weber, weakened by advanced tuberculosis , traveled to London for the world premiere of Oberon . On the way he met friends, artistic directors, publishers and musicians in Paris, including Gioachino Rossini . He first gave concerts in London. The world premiere of his English opera Oberon was celebrated by the audience. Weber had improved his English in Dresden and adapted himself to the conventions of British theater for this opera.

In late May, his health deteriorated so much that it began to frighten him. He conducted the agreed further performances, gave his concerts and planned to return home two days after a last Freischütz performance on June 7th.

He died on the night of June 5, 1826, in the house of his London host, George Smart .

On June 21, 1826 he was buried in a lead coffin in a crypt of the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary Moorfields in London with great sympathy; prominent colleagues performed parts of Mozart's Requiem . In Berlin a few weeks later Gaspare Spontini , whom many had only seen as Weber's enemy and rival, performed the Freischütz in favor of Weber's bereaved in memory of his competitor and colleague .

Eighteen years later, Weber's remains were transferred to Dresden. There Weber found his final resting place in the family grave in the Old Catholic Cemetery next to his youngest son, Alexander, who had died of measles seven weeks earlier at the age of nineteen. Richard Wagner , who had seen Weber in Dresden as a boy and loved his music from childhood, gave the funeral oration. His claim that there was never a German musician, that only Germans could love Weber, while others only admire him, showed a jealous national understanding of the music of Carl Maria von Weber.

As Kapellmeister Carl Maria von Weber has performed Italian and French works as well as works by Mozart and Beethoven. In his compositions he used Norwegian, Scottish, Polish and Russian as well as German influences. It took into account the requirements of the stages in Wroclaw, Prague, Dresden, Berlin, Vienna and London. He competed with composers and conductors of other styles, but represented them as a colleague, just as he was represented when necessary. Just as light splits into many colors in the prism, Weber shows the diverse influences that are typical for everyone who grew up in a country that was then split up with many neighbors, in Germany, with an alert and just mind.



In 1990 the asteroid (4152) Weber was named after him. Also carrying the Weber Inlet , a bay of Alexander Island in Antarctica, since 1961 his name.

Eutin Festival and Eutin Weber Days

Since 1951, when Weber's 125th anniversary of his death was commemorated, the Eutin Festival has been taking place on an open-air stage in his hometown of Eutin . In the Weberhain a bust created by Paul Peterich commemorates the city's great son. The annual event series Eutin Weber Days deals with Weber's works and their influences.


The abbreviation “J.” refers to the catalog raisonné published by Friedrich Wilhelm Jähns in Berlin in 1871. In the future, the catalog raisonné numbers of the New Complete Edition will be valid.


85 Pfennig - stamp pad of the Deutsche Post 1986 for the 200th birthday
Inscription at the Freiberg Theater for the world premiere of The Forest Girl

Incidental music

  • Turandot , op. 37; J. 75, 1809; Play by Friedrich Schiller based on Gozzi. Overture and 6 musical numbers.
  • King Yngurd , J. 214, 1817; Music for the tragedy by A. Müllner. 10 musical numbers and an unaccompanied mezzo-soprano song: “Don't let the boy let the raven”.
  • Henry IV. King of France , J. 257, 1818; Music for the tragedy by Eduard Gehe. 8 music numbers.
  • Love for love , J. 246, 1818; Music for the play by Anton Rublack. 4 song numbers, march and melodrama .
  • Preciosa , J. 279, UA 1821; Music for the play by Pius Alexander Wolff after Cervantes; Choreography of the dances by Constantin Michel Telle . Overture and 11 musical numbers.


  • More than 90 solo songs, plus numerous polyphonic songs and canons as well as vocal duets, with guitar or piano accompaniment (see web links).

Spiritual works

Vocal works with orchestra

50 Pfennig - special stamp of the German Post Office (1976) on the 150th anniversary of the death
  • Cantata Der first tone for choir (SATB) and orchestra op.14 J. 58 (1808 / revised 1810)
  • Recitative and Rondo Il momento s'avvicina for soprano and orchestra op.16 J. 93 (1810)
  • Hymn In his order the Lord creates for soloists (SATB), choir (SATB) and orchestra op.36 J. 154 (1812)
  • Cantata Kampf und Sieg for soloists (SATB), choir (SATB) and orchestra op.44 J. 190 (1815)
  • Scene and aria from Atalia Misera me! for soprano and orchestra op.50 J. 121 (1811)
  • Jubilee cantata for the 50th anniversary of the reign of King Friedrich August I of Saxony for solos (SATB), choir (SATB) and orchestra op.58 J. 244 (1818)

Concert works

80 pfennig special stamp of the Deutsche Bundespost (1986) for the 200th birthday
  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major op.11 J. 98 (1810)
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, op.32 J. 155 (1812)
  • Bassoon Concerto in F major for op.75 J. 127 (1811 / revised 1822)
  • Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73 J. 114 (1811)
  • Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, op.74 J. 118 (1811)
  • Grand Pot-Pourri for cello and orchestra in D major op.20 J. 64 (1808)
  • Concertino for clarinet and orchestra in E flat major op.26 J. 109 (1811)
  • Concertino for horn and orchestra in E minor op.45 J. 188 (1806 / reworked 1815)
  • Concert piece for piano and orchestra in F minor, Op. 79 J. 282 (1821)
  • Romanza siciliana for flute and orchestra J. 47 (1805)
  • Six variations on the theme A Schüsserl and a Reind'rl for alto viola and orchestra J. 49 (1800 / revised 1806)
  • Andante and Rondo Ungarese for alto viola and orchestra J. 79 (1809)
  • Variations for violoncello and orchestra in D minor J. 94 (1810)
  • Adagio and Rondo for harmonichord ( harmonium ) and orchestra in F major J. 115 (1811)
  • Andante and Rondo Ungarese for bassoon and orchestra in C minor op.35 J. 158 (1813) revision of J. 79

Orchestral works

Carl Maria von Weber's death mask in the Ostholstein Museum Eutin
  • Symphony No. 1 in C major op.19 J. 50 (1806/07)
  • Symphony No. 2 in C major J. 51 (1807)
  • Overture to Peter Schmoll op. 8 J. 54 (1807) and Overture in Eb or Concert Overture called
  • Overture to the ruler of spirits op.27 J. 122 (1811)
  • Jubilation Overture op.59 J. 245 (1818)
  • Little flourish J. 47a (1806)
  • Waltz J. 149 (1812)
  • German J. 185 (1815)
  • Tedesco J. 191 (1816)
  • Marcia vivace J. 288 (1822)
  • Marcia J. 307 (1826)

Chamber music

  • Six Violin Sonatas op. 10 Six Sonates progressives pour le Pianoforte avec Violon obligé dédiées aux Amateurs J. 99-104 (1810)
  • Nine variations on a Norwegian aria for violin and piano op.22 J. 61 (1808)
  • Seven Variations for Clarinet and Piano op. 33 J. 128 “Silvana Variations” (1811)
  • Grand Duo concertant for clarinet and piano in E flat major op.48 J. 204 (1816)
  • Divertimento assai facile for guitar and piano in C major op.38 J. 207 (1816/17)
  • Trio for flute, violoncello and piano in G minor op.63 J. 259 (1819)
  • Piano Quartet in B flat major J. 76 (1806/09)
  • Clarinet Quintet in B flat major op.34 J. 182 (1815)
  • Melodia for Clarinet in F major J. 119 (1811)

Piano music

  • Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 24 J. 138 (1812)
  • Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39 J. 199 (1816)
  • Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 49 J. 206 (1816)
  • Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Op. 70 J. 287 (1822)
  • Six Fughetten op. 1 J. 1–6 (1798)
  • Momento capriccioso in B flat major op.12 J. 56 (1808)
  • Grande Polonaise in E flat major op.21 J. 59 (1808)
  • Rondo brilliant in E flat major op.62 J. 252 (1819)
  • Invitation to dance Rondo brilliant in D flat major op. 65 J. 260 (1819)
  • Polacca brilliant in E major op.72 J. 268 (1819) (orchestrated version by Franz Liszt )
  • 12 Allemanden op. 4 J. 15–26 (1801)
  • Six Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 2 J. 7 (1800)
  • Eight Variations on a Theme by Abbé Vogler op.5 J. 40 (1804)
  • Six Variations op.6 J. 43 (1804)
  • Seven Variations on Vien quà, Dorina bella op.7 J. 53 (1807)
  • Seven Variations on an Original Theme Op. 9 J. 55 (1808)
  • Seven variations on the romance A peine au sortir de l'enfance op. 28 J. 141 (1812)
  • Variations on Schöne Minka op. 40 J. 179 (1815) based on the Ukrainian folk song A Cossack rode across the Danube (Їхав козак за Дунай)
  • Seven Variations on a Gypsy Song op.55 J. 219 (1817)
  • Six pieces for piano 4 hands op. 3 J. 9–14 (1801)
  • Six pieces for piano 4 hands op. 10 J. 81–86 (1809)
  • Eight pieces for piano 4 hands op. 10 J. 81–86
  • Eight pieces for piano 4 hands op. 60 J. 248, 264, 253, 242, 236, 265, 266, 254 (1819)


  • Marie Börner-Sandrini : “A memory of Carl Maria von Weber”. In: This: memories of an old woman from Dresden. Dresden : Warnatz & Lehmann 1876, pp. 75-82 ( digitized version ).
  • Rolf Hänsler: Through the woods through the meadows. The life of Carl Maria von Weber told for the youth. Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart 1963.
  • Art views: selected writings by Carl Maria von Weber. Wilhelmshaven [u. a.]: Heinrichshofen, 1978. [Original edition: Reclam, Leipzig 1975]

In the context of the Weber Complete Edition, nine volumes of Weber studies were published by Verlag Schott (Mainz) by 2015 .

The International Carl Maria von Weber Society has published a volume of the Weberiana every year since 1992 .

The Weber bibliography of the Weber Complete Edition is constantly updated and can be viewed online.

Web links

Wikisource: Carl Maria von Weber  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Carl Maria von Weber  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Max Maria von Weber: Carl Maria von Weber. A picture of life. First volume . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  2. Weber died on the night of June 5, 1826. He went to sleep on June 4 at 10 pm. The next morning he was found dead in bed.
  3. Carl Maria's brother Georg Friedrich (August 26, 1789 - September 20, 1789) and his sister Maria Antonia (June 14, 1797 - December 29, 1798) died as small children.

Individual evidence

  1. Weber Complete Edition, biography of Carl Maria von Weber . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  2. Music in Past and Present Vol. 17, (2007) p. 506
  3. Ernst Pasqué, Goethe's Theaterleitung in Weimar , Volume 2. Leipzig 1863, page 24. The opera is the lost work The Power of Love and Wine .
  4. ^ Johann Nepomuk Kalcher . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  5. Joachim Veit: ". To use ... with the utmost discretion," Neue Zeitschrift für Musik , 150, 1989, pp 8-16
  6. Weber Complete Edition, Der Harmonische Bund . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  7. ^ Letter from CM v. Weber to Johann Gänsbacher on September 24, 1810 . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  8. Weber Complete Edition, The Statutes of the Harmonious Association . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  9. a b c Christoph Schwandt : Carl Maria von Weber in his time: a biography. Schott Music, Mainz 2014, ISBN 978-3-7957-0820-7
  10. ^ Letter from CM v. Weber to Friedrich Kind on November 27, 1821 . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  11. ^ Letter from CM v. Weber to Friedrich Kind on November 19, 1825 . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  12. Schwandt: Carl Maria von Weber in his time. 2014, p. 388
  13. ^ Weber Complete Edition, Spontaneous Benefit Event . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  14. Max Maria von Weber: Transfer of Carl Maria von Weber . In: Carl Maria von Weber First Volume, Keil, Leipzig, 1864, pages 715–717 . Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  15. Marcel Prawy , Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319
  16. Richard Wagner's speech at Weber's final resting place .
  17. Asteroid Directory (pdf)
  18. Eutin Weber Days .
  19. ^ Preciosa, Text and Interludes, Library of Congress . Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  20. ^ Performance briefing of the Preciosa March 14, 1821 . Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  21. Abel Nagytothy-Toth: Carl Maria von Weber: Songs with guitar accompaniment. In: Guitar & Laute 6, 1984, Issue 1, pp. 39–41.