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Carl Maria von Weber

1786 - 1826

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, and was one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Key Works

(b. Eutin, November 19, 1786; d. London, June 5, 1826)

German composer, conductor, and pianist. He was among the first com-| posers to discern and give voice to the :: grand themes of musical Romanticism. He \ was the son of an entrepreneurially minded town musician who in 1787 decided to form his own traveling music theater company; as a result, Weber spent his childhood and : youth all over Germany. He received his initial musical training from his father and two older half-brothers, with subsequent instruction from Michael Haydn in Salzburg and Georg Vogler in Vienna.

Though he was sickly and nearsighted and limped, Weber was accomplished enough by the age of 17 to be awarded the post of opera conductor at Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland); a couple of years later he served a few months as court musician in Karlsruhe. In the summer of 1807 he landed a job as ducal secretary in Stuttgart and was joined there by his father, who had failed at his business ventures. In a scheme to repay some of his father’s debts along with some of his own, Weber stuck his I hand into the royal till, got caught, and was charged with embezzlement. He was jailed for several days and banished for life from Wurttemburg.

Chastened, Weber resolved to begin a new life. He adopted his father’s peripatetic ways, traveling and living off his earnings as a concert pianist and the sale of works to various theaters and publishers. Passing through Prague in the winter of 1813, he was unexpectedly offered the music directorship of the Estates Theater, where, tasked with bringing the desultory opera company back to life, he made a valiant effort, but found himself frustrated both by his inability to cast important works and by the public’s indifference. Weber’s work did not go unnoticed, however, and on Christmas Day 1816 he was summoned to Dresden to create, under royal patronage, an official German-language opera company. Around the same time, he became engaged to Caroline Brandt, a soprano who had been a member of the Prague company; they married the following year.

Weber arrived in Dresden in 1817 and immediately went to work building an ensemble. His efforts met with only partial success and brought him into conflict with the long-established Italian-opera tradition in the Saxon capital. But it was in Dresden that he befriended the playwright Friedrich Kind, who would provide the libretto for Weber’s most influential work, Der Freischutz (The Free [i.e., “magical”] Shooter), which premiered in Berlin in 1821 and, four years later, in New York City—in English. In many ways Der Freischutz marked the coming-of-age of German Romantic opera. The social and moral issues woven into the fabric of its folktale plot, along with the elements of the bizarre and fantastic that enliven the drama, mark it as the product of a new artistic age. Weber’s use of the orchestra throughout the work is brilliant and innovative; the overture is one of the most strikingly scored and evocative pieces of symphonic music from the first quarter of the 19th century.

The success of Der Freischutz greatly elevated Weber’s standing in the musical world, but the stress of work and the progressive deterioration of his health—he was tubercular and after 1821 suffered increasingly frequent bouts of serious illness—limited his productivity during the last five years of his life. He completed the opera Euryanthe in 1823, but the lukewarm reception accorded its premiere, in Vienna, left him embittered and discouraged. The next year, a commission from London for a new opera, Oberon, to be based on Christoph Martin Wieland’s romance, brought a last burst of creative energy. Weber studied English in order to set the English libretto effectively, and traveled to London in the winter of 1826 to put the finishing touches on the score in preparation for the Covent Garden premiere. Exhausted by these efforts, he succumbed to tuberculosis less than eight weeks after the opera’s first performance.

Weber’s output included a good deal of incidental music, two symphonies, several concertos, a small amount of chamber music, numerous songs, and some sonatas and characteristic works for piano, including the celebrated “rondeau brillant” Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance), later orchestrated by Berlioz. Several of his concerted works have secured a place in the repertoire: There are two particularly fine clarinet concertos (both composed in 1811), and the Konzert-stuck in F minor (1821) for piano and orchestra is a display piece of the first magnitude, completed on the morning of the premiere of Der Freischutz.

It was in the realm of opera and in his use of the orchestra that Weber made his most important contributions to the advancement of musical style. Even if the only one of his stage works that has held an unassailable place in the repertoire is Der Freischiltz, its influence on the work of contemporaries such as Meyerbeer and on Weber’s principal successor in the next generation, Wagner, was decisive. Weber’s richly hued writing for the orchestra, notable for its almost unprecedendy adventurous use of woodwind and brass—particularly the sparkle shown in such works as the Konzertstilck and the elfin touches found in the overture to Oberon —would have a profound effect on Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Richard Strauss, indeed, on the whole lineage of 19th- and 20th-century composers concerned with color.

Silvana, J. 87, is an opera by Carl Maria von Weber, first performed in Frankfurt am Main on 16 September 1810. The libretto, by Franz Carl Hiemer (de), is a reworking of an earlier, unsuccessful opera by Weber, Das Waldmädchen. Weber also reused music from the same piece in Silvana.

Carl Maria von Weber: "Silvana" - Teil I (1./2. Akt, Berlin 1994)
Dirigent: Hartmut Haenchen
Graf Adelhart: Siegfried Lorenz
Mechthilde: Helen Bickers
Graf Rudolph von Helfenstein: Johann Botha
Krips, sein Knappe: René Pape
Albert von Cleeburg: Reiner Goldberg
Kurt, Cleeburgs Knappe: Gerd Wolf
Clara, Mechthildes Zofe: Dorothea Röschmann

Carl Maria von Weber: "Silvana" - Teil II (2./3. Akt, Berlin 1994)

Silvana (speaking role)
Count Rudolf von Helenstein (tenor)
Krips, his squire (bass)
Count Adelhart (baritone)
Mechthilde, his daughter (soprano)
Klärchen, her maid (soprano)
Albert von Cleeburg (tenor)
Kurt, his squire (bass)
Fust von Grimmbach (baritone)
Ulrich (speaking role)


Act 1

The opera opens to horns and a huntsmen's chorus as Count Rudolph von Helfenstein and his followers are enjoying a bear hunt. Krips, Rudolf's squire, offers some comic relief as he stumbles on the scene and thinks he has killed the dead bear singing the first of his several comic songs. This is followed by another huntsmen's chorus which would not be out of place in Der Freischütz. Count Rudolph now sings an melancholy aria about seeking solitude in the wilderness and seeking the love of a woman. Count Adelhart's daughter, Mechthilde, is promised to him, but he knows she does not love him. The aria concludes with the idea that he will seek the trumpets of battle to find rest from his lack of love. Musically the aria is similar to that of Huon's in Oberon. Krips tries to cheer him up with another comic aria, where Krips advocates a fear of the supernatural and Rudolf proposes courage at all times. Krips thinks he has seen a wood-spirit or devil in a cave nearby. As Krips hides, his aria describes his feelings and the action as Rudolf goes into the cave and then leads a girl, Silvana, out. She is mute and dressed only in skins and leaves. Rudolf falls in love with her. Rudolf sings to Silvana and she shyly reciprocates his advances, the orchestra acting very cleverly as the partner to her mute duet with Rudolf. She does not wish to leave the cave and her forest home. The huntsmen return and sing of the joys brought by the Rhine and the wine it produces. Silvana falls asleep and Rudolf has his men quietly carry her to Count Adelhart's castle nearby where he is staying as a guest.

Act 2
In the opening duet Count Adelhart is quarreling with his daughter about the arranged marriage with Count Rudolf that he demands of her. Count Adelhart believes that Hanns von Cleeburg robbed him of his second daughter Ottilie, and Mechthilde as the only surviving child of the family and must make a suitable marriage. After he leaves Mechthilde sings an aria about her love for Albert von Cleeburg, son of her father's enemy. Her maid Klärchen manages to arrange a secret meeting between the couple, she plans on going along since she is loved by Albert's squire, Kurt. In a quartet the four lovers express their common desire for happiness together. Albert hopes that Count Rudolf will be a noble-hearted man and stand aside for true love.

After an orchestral interlude the scene opens as Silvana awakens in the castle to Rudolf's pleas for her to stay with someone who loves her. He learns that she has left her father behind and he sends Krips to ask Sir Fust to seek him out, and bring him to the castle. In another aria he sings again about how much he loves her. This is followed by another comic aria where Krips extolls the virtues of wine over women.

The final to the act takes place in the grand ceremonial hall after a tournament has taken place. An unknown knight has won all three contests and is awarded prizes of a sword and golden spurs by the lovely Mechthilde. Count Adelhart and the other beg him to raise his visor to reveal the noble knight. When they see he is Albert von Cleeburg, Count Adelhart is enraged and seeks revenge. Only Rudolf's sword prevents Albert's imprisonment and allows him to escape as the act ends.

Act 3
Albert and his followers have gathered in the forest, where there is a terrific thunder storm. It is here that they come upon Ulrich, once in Count Adelhart's service. He is in despair, seeking for his foster daughter Silvana whom he had found in the forest, suckled by wolves. Silvana is in fact Adelhart‘s lost daughter Ottilie, driven out and exposed in the forest by her jealous father. Her mother had died young and Count Adelhart suspected that she was in love with Count von Cleeburg and that because of a slight resemblance, she was his daughter. He drove her out of the castle and Ulrich became her foster father, hoping for an eventual reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Count Adelhart plots revenge on both sets of lovers. Rudolph only has eyes for the mute Silvana, but if she died maybe he would marry his daughter. Adelhart's plan to murder Silvana is prevented at the last moment by Rudolph and Mechthilde. Albert appears and brings the happy news: Silvana is Ottilie, Adelhart's daughter and sister of Mechthilde. A diamond cross that once belonged to Ottilie's mother and her birthmark convince the angry Count Adelhart. Ulrich frees the girl from his command of silence. Adelhart now gives his daughters permission to marry: Ottilie/Silvana, will be united with Rudolph, Mechthilde with Albert, The old family feud is at an end and celebration is sung by a final chorus followed by three orchestral numbers: a torch dance, a dance of the Pages and a quick dance, then a choral finale that ends the opera.

Der Freischütz, Op. 77, J. 277, (usually translated as The Marksman or The Freeshooter) is a German opera with spoken dialogue in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber with a libretto by Friedrich Kind. It premiered on 18 June 1821 at the Schauspielhaus Berlin. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera, especially in its national identity and stark emotionality.

Euryanthe is a German "grand, heroic, romantic" opera by Carl Maria von Weber, first performed at the Theater am Kärntnertor, Vienna on 25 October 1823. Though acknowledged as one of Weber's most important operas, the work is rarely staged because of the weak libretto by Helmina von Chézy (who, incidentally, was also the author of the failed play Rosamunde, for which Franz Schubert wrote music). Euryanthe is based on the 13th-century romance "L'Histoire du très-noble et chevalereux prince Gérard, comte de Nevers et la très-virtueuse et très chaste princesse Euriant de Savoye, sa mye."

Euryanthe - Carl Maria Von Weber

King Louis VI    bass  
Euryanthe of Savoy    soprano 
Eglantine von Puiset    soprano  
Adolar, Count of Nevers    tenor  
Lysiart, Count of Forest    baritone  
Rudolf, a knight    tenor  
Bertha, a country girl    soprano  
Ladies, knights, soldiers, hunters, pages, heralds, peasants

Time: 1110
Place: Prémery and Nevers, France
Act 1
Euryanthe is betrothed to Count Adolar. In a hall of the palace of King Louis of France in Prémery, the count sings the praises of his promised bride. Lysiart, Count of Forest and Beaujolais, challenges the fidelity of the maiden and asserts that he can win her should he care to try. Adolar stakes his lands and fortune on the faithfulness of Euryanthe and demands that his friend shall show some proof of his victory should he win one.

In her castle at Nevers, Euryanthe has given refuge to Eglantine de Puiset, the daughter of a mutineer. Eglantine is enamoured of Adolar, and under the pretence of friendship for her benefactor, she secretly determines to effect Euryanthe's downfall and rupture her attachment to Adolar. Lysiart, who has unsuccessfully attempted to gain the favor of Euryanthe, assists Eglantine. After questioning by Eglantine, Euryanthe confides a secret given to her by Adolar to Eglantine. The latter's sister Emma had lost her lover in battle, and had killed herself by drinking poison from a ring (the 'ghost' music from the overture is heard). Her soul can find no rest until the ring, lying in her tomb, should be moistened with the tears of an injured and innocent maiden. Euryanthe, who has been praying each night at Emma's tomb, had promised Adolar to keep this secret, and, too late, she repents having told it to Eglantine. After Euryanthe leaves, Eglantine sings how she will denounce Euryanthe to Adolar; Lysiart arrives in order to take Euryanthe to the palace.

Act 2
At night, Lysiart sings both of his guilt and his love. Eglantine visits the tomb, abstracts the ring, and gives it to Lysiart, who had almost given up on his wager with Adolar. She lets him know the secret behind the ring, and he proposes marriage with Eglantine.

Before an assembly in the hall at Prémery, Adolar reveals his anxiety while still longing for his bride, who then arrives. Lysiart displays the jewel to Count Adolar, claiming that Euryanthe had told him about it. Adolar is convinced that his betrothed is unfaithful, since she must have betrayed the secret known to him and her alone. Euryanthe protests her innocence, Adolar gives up his possessions to Lysiart, and rushes off into the forest with Euryanthe.

Act 3
In a rocky gorge, Adolar intends to kill Euryanthe, still protesting her innocence, and then himself. They are suddenly attacked by a serpent and the girl throws herself between her lover and the monster; Adolar kills the serpent. He cannot find the heart to kill the one who would have given her life for his, and he goes off, leaving her to her fate. Euryanthe longs for death, but the king and his hunters arrive on the scene, and she recounts the story of her woe and the treachery of Eglantine. Although joyful that she might see Adolar again, she collapses as they lead her away.

Meanwhile, Eglantine has become engaged to Lysiart, and the wedding is about to take place in the Castle of Nevers, when she is stricken with remorse. Adolar has entered in black armour with his visor down. Eglantine, struck by the silence of the courtiers, and still in love with Adolar, thinks that Euryanthe appears to her as a ghost. Adolar shows who he is, and challenges Lysiart to fight. The king appears, and to punish Adolar for his distrust of Euryanthe, tells him that she is dead. Eglantine, triumphant at the supposed death of her rival, makes known the plot and is slain by the furious Lysiart. As Eglantine dies Euryanthe enters and rushes to Adolar. Lysiart is led off, and Adolar's sister finds peace at last because her ring was moistened by the tears of the innocent Euryanthe.

The forest scene with the serpent, performed at the Royal Theatre in Dresden with Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient in the title role.

Oberon, or The Elf King's Oath is a 3-act romantic opera in English with spoken dialogue and music by Carl Maria von Weber. The libretto by James Robinson Planché was based on a German poem, Oberon, by Christoph Martin Wieland, which itself was based on the epic romance Huon de Bordeaux, a French medieval tale.

Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance) Op. 65
Edvard Tchivzhel

Carl Maria von Weber - Piano Works
Michael Endres, piano
Sonatas 1 - 4
Grande Polonaise
Afforderung zum tanz

Piano Concerto 1 in C Major
New York Metamorphoses Orchestra
Eugene Sirotkine, piano 

Piano Concerto 2 in E Flat Major Op. 32
Proinnsias O Duinn, Conductor
Benjamin Frith, Piano
Naxos Record Label

Clarinet concerto n°1 in F Minor, op. 73
Laura Magistrelli

Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, op. 74.
Anna Paulová

Clarinet Quintet in B flat major

Clarinetist: Kálmán Berkes

Symphony No. 1 In C Major
The London Classical Players - Roger Norrington, conductor

Symphony No. 2 In C Major
London Classical Players - Roger Norrington conductor

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