Michael McCooe: Composer – Weber
Carl Maria von Weber was one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school of the 19th Century.
Ability and style
Born in November 1786, his influence on German classical music in the 19th Century cannot be understated.
Weber was a capable composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic. His most famous operas include Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon which greatly influenced Romantic Opera in Germany as a whole. Der Freischütz was regarded as the first German nationalist opera, while Euryanthe developed the Leitmotif technique.
It is believed that Oberon may have influenced Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream while also revealing Weber’s lifelong interest in the music of non-Western cultures which had an impact on the composer’s unique style.
In Schiller’s translation of Gozzi’s Turandot, Weber became the first composer to include an Asian tune which was not the pseudo-Turkish kind used by others including Mozart when he used a Chinese melody.
Skillset of Weber
A superb pianist, Weber composed four sonatas, two concertos and the Konzertstück in F minor (concert piece), which are known to have influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Stravinsky – the latter used the model for his Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.
Weber also wrote some shorter piano pieces, including the Invitation to the Dance which was orchestrated by Berlioz, while his Polacca Brillante was later set for piano and orchestra by Liszt.
Woodwind instruments play a crucial role in Weber’s musical repertoire and many of his compositions for the clarinet are still performed regularly today. His Concertino for Horn and Orchestra is also a popular addition to classical repertoire, though it requires a more profound skill from the performer and has therefore proven less popular.
Weber’s contribution to vocal and choral music is significant and his Catholic religious music was highly popular in 19th Century Germany.
Various composers of the 20th Century paid tribute to Weber, with many crediting him with the foundations of their own works. These include Debussy, Stravinsky, Mahler and Hindemith.
You can listen to some of my favourite classical pieces on my Michael McCooe SoundCloud profile, which is updated regularly.