Carl Maria Von Weber (1786 - 1826)



Bad luck seemed to dog Carl Maria von Weber's professional life; there was always a rival faction, a temperamental diva or political intrigue to complicate matters.

Donald Macleod finds Weber working for the aristocratic and eccentric Württemberg family, with whom Weber's own sense of mischief landed him in hot water.

Ruler of the Sprits Overture

The Hanover Band

Roy Goodman (director)

Symphony No 1

Philharmonia Orchestra

Claus Peter Flor (conductor)

Seven Variations on Vien quà, Dorina bella

Alexander Paley (piano).

01'you Will Never Be A Musician!'20180618

Weber's childhood as travelling player - first opera at 14 and banishment from W\u00fcrttemberg

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Carl Maria von Weber's father wanted a child prodigy like his niece's husband Mozart. But he was unimpressed by his son's attempts at learning the violin and rapped him over the knuckles with the bow, telling him: "Whatever will be made of you Carl, it will never be a musician!"

Donald Macleod traces Weber's childhood in the Weber family of travelling players through to the staging of his first opera in Freiburg aged 14. Then came a near tragic episode when the young composer somehow managed to mistake a bottle of nitric acid for a bottle of wine, which left his voice badly affected for the rest of his life. He eventually got a job at the Court at Württemberg in Stuttgart, but he and his father were arrested there for a scam and were banished from the kingdom.

Overture Der Freischütz
Berlin Philharmonic
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Variations for the Pianoforte Op 2
Alexander Paley, piano

Piano Quartet
Isabelle Faust, Violin
Alexander Melnikov, piano
Boris Faust, viola
Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, cello

Ein steter Kampf ist unser Leben
Martin Hill, singer
Christopher Hogwood, piano

Producer: Rosie Boulton for BBC Wales.

02'you Have To Go Out; Away Into The Distance'20180619

Weber's life continues - always on the move and always in debt.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod traces Weber's years as a young composer when he was always in debt and always on the move. Despite his lifelong trouble with his hip, Weber went on a walking tour in the Alps where he was deeply inspired by nature. And he toured Germany with his new virtuoso clarinettist friend Heinrich Baermann for whom he wrote revolutionary works for the clarinet.

Cantata Der erste Ton for chorus and orchestra, Op. 14, last mvt
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Festival Singers
Martyn Brabbins, conductor

Clarinet Quintet in B flat Opus 34
Gervase de Peyer, clarinet
Melos Ensemble

Abu Hassan Opera (Geld, Geld, Geld! Chorus)
Wüstner Student Chorale, Dresden State Opera Chorus,
Peter Schreier, singer
Theo Adam, singer

Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano in G minor
Jaime Martin, flute
Christoph Marks, Cello
Susan Tomes, Piano

Producer: Rosie Boulton for BBC Wales.

03'landscape Is To Me The Performance Of A Piece Of Music'20180620

Weber is deeply influenced by new Romantic ideas.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod traces Weber's fascination with the Romantic movement. Also, his directorship of the Opera at the Estates Theatre in Prague where he tries to champion German opera but the audiences prefer Italian opera. The composer a ménage à trois with one singer Therese Brunetti, but ends up marrying Caroline Brandt, another singer. He composes The Invitation to the Dance to celebrate their partnership.

The Gallant Troubadour
Robert White, singer
Samuel Sanders, piano
Mark Peskanov, violin
Nathaniel Rosen, cello
Ransom Wilson, flute

Ein Konig einst gefangen sass
Peter Schreier, singer
Konrad Ragossnig, guitar

Cantata Kampf und Sieg, Op 44 (final chorus)
Choir and Orchestra of Leipzig Radio
Herbert Kegel, conductor

Sind es schmerzen, sind es freuden?
Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, singer
Hartmut Holl, piano

Invitation to the Dance
Stephen Hough, piano

Piano Concerto No 2
Nikolai Demidenko, piano
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Producer: Rosie Boulton for BBC Wales.

04'an Artist's Sphere Of Influence Is The World'20180621

The woodland setting of Der Freisch\u00fctz entrances Weber's German audience.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod traces the origins of Weber's opera Der Freischütz and, as part of Radio 3's Into the Forest season, discusses how its woodland setting captured the romantic imagination of his audience.

The first performance was witnessed by E T A Hoffmann, the poet Heinrich Heine, and a 12-year-old Felix Mendelssohn. Heine said that the opera became so popular that even the dogs barked tunes from it.

Hector Berlioz eulogised that a score as irreproachable as Freischütz, as constantly interesting from beginning to end... Intelligence, imagination, genius shine everywhere with a radiance the force of which might dazzle any but eagle eyes, were it not also for a sensitiveness, inexhaustible as well as restrained, which softens its glare.

The thunderous success of Der Freischütz brought Weber international renown and made him the undisputed composer - par excellence - of German opera.
Mary Shelley saw a production of the opera in London in 1824, which may have influenced her novel Frankenstein, and wrote to a friend: the music is wild but often beautiful, when the magic bullets are cast they fill the stage with all sorts of horrors...all forms of a very fine scene...while every part of the enveloped in darkness...

Der Freischütz (Huntsmen's Chorus)
LSO Chorus and Orchestra
Colin Davis, conductor

Der Freischütz (Wolf's Glen Act 2 Finale)
LSO Chorus and Orchestra
Colin Davis, conductor

Euryanthe Overture
Staatskapelle Dresden
Marek Janowski, conductor

Konzertstück for piano and orchestra, Op 79
Alfred Brendel, piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Producer: Rosie Boulton for BBC Wales.

05'i Am Going To London To Die'20180622

Weber visits London for his opera Oberon, but his health deteriorates and he dies aged 39.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod traces Weber to London for the premiere of his opera Oberon at Covent Garden. But exhaustion from travelling and the stress of the new production combined with the pollution in London, caused Weber's health to deteriorate and he died aged 39.

In 1844, 18 years after Weber's death, Richard Wagner oversaw the transfer of Weber's coffin from London to its final resting place in Dresden. Year later he recalled: "In my youth, I had learned to love music by way of my admiration of Weber's genius; and the news of his death came as a terrible blow to me. To have come in contact with him again, so to speak, and after so many years by this second funeral, was an event that stirred me to the very depths of my being."

Oberon Overture
Orchestra of Bayerischen Rundfunks
Rafael Kubelik, conductor

Oberon (Kavatine: Trauer mein Herz)
Birgitt Nilsson, singer
Orchestra of Bayerischen Rundfunks
Rafael Kubelik, conductor

Piano Sonata No 4
Garrick Ohlsson, piano

Oberon (Final 2 movements)
Orchestra of Bayerischen Rundfunks
Rafael Kubelik, conductor

Producer: Rosie Boulton for BBC Wales.