Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/422

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406

WEBER.

Weber thought it desirable to appear in public at a concert before leaving Berlin. The second representation of Der Freischütz took place on the 20th, and the third on the 32nd, of June. On the 25th he held his concert in the hall of the new theatre, and played his Concertstück, completed that day week, for the first time in public. Others of his compositions heard on the same occasion were the Italian scena from Atalia,' and the Variations for PF. and violin on a Norwegian theme. His colleague in the latter piece was the eccentric violinist Alex- andre Boucher, who, having asked permission to introduce a cadence of his own in the finale of the variations, improvised on themes from 4 Der Freischütz' but wandered off so far that he could not get back again, seeing which, he put down his violin, and throwing his arms round Weber exclaimed enthusiastically, 'Ah, grand maitre! que je t'aime, que je t'admire ! ' The audience joined in with loud cheers for Weber.

Weber returned to Dresden July 1, 1821. In comparison with other places in Germany, Dres- den was in no special hurry to produce Der Freischütz, though it had not been able alto- gether to shut its ears to the reports of its colossal success. The composer, in spite of all the pains he took to show his loyalty, was no favourite with the king and court. He was the singer par excellence of Körner's lyrics, and anything which called up reminiscences of the war that inspired those songs could not but be painful to the King of Saxony. He tried to be just to- wards Weber, and acknowledged his services in many ways, but his sentiments were well known, and had their influence on the courtiers. From the time of the first appearance of Der Freischütz till Weber's death, there is not a sign that at court the smallest pride was felt in the fact of Dresden possessing the greatest German composer of the day. He was all but allowed to accept the post of Court-Capellmeister at Cassel, with the liberal salary of 2,500 thalers (£ 375) 1000 thalers more than he received at Dresden. The Minister at last offered him an increase of 300 thalers, calculating that with his attachment to Dresden that would be sufficient inducement to him to remain ; and he was not deceived. The additional salary however was deprived of all value as a distinction by its being also bestowed on Morlacchi. This took place in August and September of the year in which Der Freischütz saw the light, but even some years later Weber's official superiors would not see that the Capell- meister of the Dresden German opera was a man of world-wide fame. Perhaps they really did not see it. When Weber was in Berlin, Dec. 1825, for the production of Euryanthe, his Intendant von Lüttichau happened to be present when Weber was leaving the theatre after rehearsal, and seeing a large crowd waiting at the door, and all hats raised with the greatest respect, he turned to him and said with astonishment, ' Weber, are you then really a celebrated man ? ' Der Freischütz was performed in Dresden for the first time, Jan. 26, 1822, and met with

WEBER.

a more enthusiastic reception than had ever been known there before. At the close of the performance the storm of applause defied all restraint. A few isolated cases were found of people who did not like it, but their com- ments were unheard in the general approval. Kind, the librettist, could not bear the music, because it threw his own merits into the shade, and its ever-increasing success irritated the petty vanity of this bel esprit to such an extent as to end in a complete breach of his friend- ship with Weber. Spohr, who had moved to Dresden 1 with his family, Oct. 31, 1821, heard it there for the first time, and was not favourably impressed. His failure to understand Weber's mnsic has been mentioned already, and this is fresh evidence of it; but as before, it made no difference in their relations. On the con- trary, Weber showed his esteem for Spohr by warmly recommending him to Generaldirector Feige, of Cassel, for the post of Capellmeister, which he had himself declined, but which, as is well-known, Spohr accepted, and filled with credit up to a short period before his death. Ludwig Tieck too, then resident in Dresden, never could reconcile himself thoroughly to Der Freischütz, though he heartily appreciated Euryanthe. The two men, much as they dif- fered in their views on dramatic art, formed a lasting friendship, expressed with frankness on both sides. Weber was seldom absent from Tieck's dramatic readings of great works, and was a most attentive listener. Speaking gene- rally, he was on excellent terms with the poets of the day. With Goethe indeed he never got on, though they met several times ; but with Jean Paul, and also with Achim von Arnim he was intimate. Arnim, like Tieck, belonged to the ro- mantic school, and it was natural that there should be sympathy between them; but Weber was also very friendly with Wilhelm Müller, author of the ' Müllerlieder,' and the ' Winterreise.' Müller visited him in Dresden and dedicated a volume of poems to him in the autumn of 1842, but not one of these did Weber set. His day for writing Lieder was over. Of Tieck's poems he only composed one (' Sind es Schmerzen, sind es Freuden,' from ' Die schöne Magelone ').

During the latter half of 1821 Weber was at work upon the comic opera ' Die drei Pintos,' begun in 1820, but destined never to be finished. He was drawn off towards work of a different kind. The criticisms on Der Frei- schütz were almost always on points of form, and mainly resolved themselves into this, that the opera did not contain enough of those larger, artistically constructed, forms which be- tray the hand of the master. Hence, was it certain that Weber was really master of his art, or did he not owe his great success mainly ,to his heaven-sent genius? Weber was very sensitive to public criticism, even when so ignorant, one-sided, and absurd as this, and he determined to write a grand opera, and show

1 Thus all the three representatives of German romantic opera Weber, Spohr, and Marschner, were living in the same place.