Carl Maria von Weber

Born 19 December 1786. Died 5 July 1826.
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Weber: Der Freischutz

In this Proms Music Guide, Tom Service talks about Weber's Der Freischutz.

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Biography

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

Weber's operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. Der Freischütz came to be regarded as the first German "nationalist" opera, Euryanthe developed the Leitmotif technique to a hitherto-unprecedented degree, while Oberon may have influenced Mendelssohn's music for A Midsummer Night's Dream and, at the same time, revealed Weber's lifelong interest in the music of non-Western cultures. This interest was first manifested in Weber's incidental music for Schiller's translation of Gozzi's Turandot, for which he used a Chinese melody, making him the first Western composer to use an Asian tune that was not of the pseudo-Turkish kind popularized by Mozart and others.

A brilliant pianist himself, Weber composed four sonatas, two concertos and the Konzertstück (Concert Piece) in F minor, which influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. The Konzertstück provided a new model for the one-movement concerto in several contrasting sections (such as Liszt's, who often played the work), and was acknowledged by Stravinsky as the model for his Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. Weber's shorter piano pieces, such as the Invitation to the Dance, were later orchestrated by Berlioz, while his Polacca Brillante was later set for piano and orchestra by Liszt.

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