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Timeline: Carl Maria Von Weber

U.S. Public Domain
Carl Maria von Weber was a well-respected composer, music critic, virtuoso pianist and an acclaimed conductor.

Beethoven loomed so large in early 19th Century Germany that other composers are often overlooked. One prime example is Carl Maria von Weber, a founder of the Romantic Movement.

Weber’s father, Franz Anton, was the musical director of a theater in Lubeck and also the founder of the traveling Weber Theater Company. Carl Maria was a child of Franz’s second marriage rather late in his life. Weber was born a weak-child.  A damaged hip-bone left him with a permanent limp. Fortunately for him, he came from a family of musicians who sought to provide him a musical education from an early age. Like Beethoven, Weber was a student of Haydn, only not Franz Joseph Haydn, but his brother Michael. Under the younger Haydn’s instruction Weber wrote his first operas.

At the age of 16, Weber moved to Vienna with intentions of studying with Franz Joseph Haydn. But instead the call of the stage and theater drew him to Georg Joseph Vogler. Vogler was a well-respected opera composer as well as a musical theorist whose work laid out the foundation of Romantic harmony. With Vogler’s support, Weber was appointed the Kapellmeister of the theater in Breslau. He wasn’t even 18 yet. This was the first of many appointments in Weber’s career that led him from Stuttgart to Prague to Dresden.

Carl Maria von Weber’s father had a tendency to make life difficult for his son. An accident occurred in Breslau when Weber mistakenly drank a wine bottle full of engraving acid that his father had left out. Carl became terribly ill and his voice was permanently ruined. Later, in Stuttgart, Weber’s father managed to get his son arrested after he used money entrusted to Carl to pay off his own personal debts.

Weber was a well-respected music critic, a virtuoso pianist and an acclaimed conductor. He was one of the first to stand in front of the orchestra with a baton as we traditionally see today. Arguably though, Weber’s greatest legacy is found in his work for the stage. Weber was the single greatest influence on a composer who later took his place as director in Dresden, Richard Wagner.

Timeline is an exploration into the development of Western music. Take a journey into the events, characters and concepts that shaped our Western musical tradition.

James Stewart is Vermont Public Classical's afternoon host. As a composer, he is interested in many different genres of music; writing for rock bands, symphony orchestras and everything in between.
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