Philip Hale's Boston Symphony Programme Notes: Historical, Critical, and Descriptive Comment on Music and Composers

By John N. Burk; Philip Hale | Go to book overview
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CARL MARIA VON
WEBER

(Born at Eutin, Oldenburg, December 18, 1786;
died at London, June 5, 1826)

MR. WILLIAM APTHORP frequently spoke of the "Weberian flourish," of the chivalric spirit shown, not only in Weber's overtures to "Euryanthe" and Oberon, but in much of his music for the piano. Weber's operas are wholly unknown as stage works to the younger generation. Oberon is a dull opera, with some beautiful music. Euryanthe, too, is dull, dull beyond redemption, although at Dresden years ago we saw a most carefully prepared performance, for the cult of Weber in that city was then firmly established, and nowhere else was Der Freischütz so admirably performed. Yet Weber was a mighty man in his day, influencing composers of other countries than his own, praised to the skies by Berlioz and Wagner. The latter had good reason for his enthusiasm; the influence of Euryanthe is observed in his early operas. Weber was a romanticist of the E. T. A. Hoffmann order. The music for the scene of the Wolf's Glen in Der Freischütz is in no need of fireworks and ghostly apparitions for its terrifying effects. There is charming fairy music in Oberon. Then there is the mysterious largo in the Euryanthe overture. The grand arias, the set pieces for a soprano, with the final allegro section better suited to an orchestral instrument than the human voice, are now singularly out of fashion, but what could be better as music for a particular text than that for the opening scenes of Der Freischütz? The three overtures will long preserve the composer's name.

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