Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria von Weber was the first great German romantic musician and paved the way for the development of Romantic opera. His choice of subjects and the musical and dramatic development in his major operas, Der Freischütz and Oberon, prepared the public for the arrival of Richard Wagner.
Carl Maria von Weber was the son of the director of a traveling drama company and Mozart's cousin by marriage. His parents took him along on tour. From an early age, he studied piano, first with his brother, then in Munich, Vienna and Salzburg, at one point took lessons from Michael Haydn. He composed his first opera at the age of twelve.
From 1804, Weber divided his life between composition and conducting, travelling throughout Germany for engagements. He failed to find a professional equilibrium. Until 1813, his career as a pianist was more dominant than his work as a composer but this allowed him to broadcast his works throughout Europe. His two stable engagements, as conductor at the Prague Standethater and as director of the new German opera in Dresden, allowed Weber to put his ideas into practice. He worked to reform and develop German opera in a heavily Italianate environment.
His most famous work, Der Freischütz, premiered in 1821 in Berlin and was met with immediate success throughout Germany and Europe. Subsequently, London's Covent Garden commissioned Oberon, the production of which Weber oversaw just two months before his death.
Weber is best known for his operas; he also left behind a considerable opus of piano works and wind repertoire. Weber was a master of orchestration, which intensified his symphonic and concert works. His influence is perceptible in the work of Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn, as well as in that of Meyerbeer, Wagner, Mahler, Berlioz, Debussy, Stravinsky and Mahler.
Six Key Works by Weber
1811 - Concerto N°1 for Clarinet op.73
1815 - Quintet en B-flat major for clarinet and strings
1819 - Rondeau brillante for piano, known as "Invitation to the dance" op. 65
1821 - Der Freischütz, opera, libretto by Johann Friedrich Kind
1823 - Euryanthe opera, libretto by Wilhelmine von Chezy
1826 - Obéron, opera, libretto by James Robinson Planché from the work by Christoph Martin Wieland
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Weber
1798 Met Michael Haydn, who gives him free lessons in Salzburg
1798 Composed his first Singspiel, Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins
1803-1804 Met Priest Georg Joseph Vogler, with whom he studies music
1817 Became Director of the New German Opera in Dresden
1821 Premiere of Der Freischütz in Berlin
1823 Met Schubert at the premiere of his opera Euryanthe in Vienna