Friday, January 19, 2018

Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)

No. 269 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

Today’s podcast, feeding our ongoing set of musical time capsules, is dedicated to the music of Carl Maria von Weber, who like Beethoven and Schubert, is a transitional composer trained in the Classical era but whose work launches the Romantic school.

There is an interesting family connection between Weber and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Weber;s uncle (his father’s half-brother, Fridolin) had four musical daughters, Josepha, Aloysia, Constanze and Sophie, all of whom became notable singers. Mozart attempted to woo Aloysia, composing several pieces for her. But after she rejected his advances, Mozart went on to marry Constanze.

Weber's orchestration has been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers – Berlioz referred to him several times in his Treatise on Instrumentation while Debussy remarked that the sound of the Weber orchestra was obtained through the scrutiny of the soul of each instrument. Tiday’s podcast features three examples of Weber’s used of orchestral colours.

Weber's operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon – whose overture opens our podcast - greatly influenced the development of German Romantische Oper. 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.

Weber's compositions for the clarinet, which include two concertos – the first featured in today’s podcast - a concertino, a quintet (both featured in a past podcasts), a duo concertante, and variations on a theme from his opera Silvana, are regularly performed today.

A brilliant pianist himself, Weber composed four sonatas – one of which is featured today - two concertos and the Konzertstück 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, and was acknowledged by Stravinsky as the model for his Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.

I think you will love this music too.