Weber, Carl (Karl) Maria Friedrich Ernst von
b Eutin, nr Lübeck, N Germany 1786, d London 1826. Taught first by his erratic but gifted father, from 1798 he became a Salzburg Cathedral chorister and pupil of Michael Haydn. But after a series of family troubles including his mother’s death, his father moved next to Munich and more than once elsewhere, each time trying to give the teenage Carl the best musical training available; at 17 he was taught by the priest and organist G J (Abbé or Abt) Vogler; cf notes to J H Knecht. He learned to live with a permanent limp. He had composed an opera at the age of 13, which was never performed, and many later ones which were. These effectively founded the tradition of national romantic opera in Germany and elsewhere. The tragi-comedy of his life was the 4 virtually wasted years at the royal palace in Würtemburg, serving a family he largely despised; the antipathy came to be mutual. 1810 found him at Darmstadt, and as his reputation grew he gave concerts throughout Germany from 1811 onwards. He worked happily in Prague from 1813 to 1816, and finally achieved recognised greatness with his opera ‘Der Freischütz’, produced first in Dresden but most triumphantly in Berlin, where ‘Euryanthe’ followed in 1823. ‘Oberon’ was written for London audiences but proved the swan-song of a sick man; it is said that ‘the work cost him his life’, and he survived just long enough to appreciate its immense success at Covent Garden. He also composed songs, chamber music, overtures and other orchestral works which have not lasted so well, published music criticism, and wrote some piano works which are still being played. He is remembered also as a patriot, nature-lover and painter. The hymn tune which bears his name is found in relatively few books; for his other work, see Grove. No.822.