Carl Maria von Weber

1786 - 1826

Biography

Carl Maria von Weber was an eminent German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, born in November 1786 in Eutin, Holstein. He is also often seen as the first significant composer of the Romantic school. His family regularly moved around Germany, meaning that his education, much of which he received from his father, was regularly interrupted. In 1796, whilst in Hildburghausen, Weber received music lessons from the oboist Johann Peter Heuschkel. Two years later, he went to Salzburg in order to study with Michael Haydn, younger brother of Joseph Haydn, who taught Weber free of charge. Later that year he travelled to Munich where he studied with singer Johann Evangelist Wallishauser and organist Johann Nepomuk Kalcher. In this year, he also published his first work at the age of 12. The piece, six fughettas for piano, was published in Leipzig. His first opera came aged 14 in 1800, shortly after his family had moved to Freiberg, where the opera, called Das stumme Waldmädchen, was premiered. In 1801 he began his career as a music critic, publishing articles in the Leipziger Neue Zeitung. The opera career that followed was enormously successful and operas such as Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon had a significant influence upon the development of German Romantic opera. Moreover, Die Freischütz is often said to be the first German ‘nationalist’ opera. His instrumental music also forms a significant part of his output, with his works for clarinet remaining critical parts of the repertory and his works for bassoon remaining very popular among bassoonists.