Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/442

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426

��WEBER.

��day a stock-piece with virtuosi, and has left its mark on later composers. Mendelssohn would probably not have written his G minor con- certo, but for this predecessor. Not the least of its many attractions is its form (Larghetto, Allegro, March, Finale), diverging so materially from that of all previous concertos. Then too, though complete in itself as a piece of music, it is prompted by a poetical idea, for a whole dramatic scene was in the composer's mind when he wrote it. What this was we are told by Benedict, who on the morning of the first performance of ' Der Freischutz ' sat listening with Weber's wife, while he played them the Concertstuck then just finished.

The Chatelaine sits all alone on her balcony gazing far away into the distance. Her knight has gone to the Holy Land. Years have passed by, battles have been fought. Is he still alive ? will she ever see him again ? Her excited imagination calls up a vision of her hus- band lying wounded and forsaken on the battlefield. Can she not fly to him, and die by his side. She falls back unconscious. But hark I what notes are those in the distance ? Over there in the forest something flashes in the sunlight nearer and nearer. Knights and squires with the cross of the Crusaders, banners waving, ac- clamations of the people ; and there it is he 1 She sinks into his arms. Love is triumphant. Happiness without end. The very woods and waves sing the song of love ; a thousand voices proclaim his victory.' i

The part which the different movements take in this programme is obvious enough. The music is quite independent of the idea which prompted it, but a knowledge of the programme adds greatly to the pleasure of listening ; and the fact of his having composed in this manner is an interesting point in the study of Weber's idio- syncrasy.

The other two concertos, in C and Eb, have been unduly neglected for the Concert-stuck. The former, composed in 1810, is indeed not so brilliant, but its delightfully original finale would alone make it a valuable work. The other owes its origin apparently to Beethoven's Concerto inEb. This came out in February 1811, and we learn from Weber's diary that he bought a copy in Leipzig on Jan. 14, 1812. His own concerto in Eb was finished in December of the same year at Gotha. The choice of the key, the remote key of B major for the Adagio, and still closer resemblances between parts of the movements of the two, show how deep an impression Beethoven's work had made on the younger artist. Still it was only suggestion, and did not affect Weber's identity. The differ- ences between the two will be found quite as decided as the resemblances.

20. When once Mozart had introduced the clarinet into the higher range of music it rapidly became a favourite solo-instrument. Germany had at the beginning of the century two pre- eminent clarinet-players Hermstedt of Son- dershausen, and Barmann of Munich. Spohr composed for the former, Weber for the latter. 3

i Benedict's ' Weber.'

Of Weber's six works for clarinet solo, flva are dedicated to his friend BSnnann ; the sixth, op. 48. bears no dedication. It seems probable from Jhns (p. 434, No. 57) that this was composed for Hermstedt at his own request, but that Weber would not dedicate It to him out of consideration for Bfirmaun.

��WEBER.

Hermstedt was an excellent player as far as tech- nique went, but a man of limited intellect, while Barmann, with an equally brilliant technique, was a thorough artist in temperament, and a man of refined taste. Spohr's clarinet com- positions are good work, but, perhaps because he was in the habit of composing for Herm- stedt, he never seems to have got at the heart of the instrument. This Weber did, and to such an extent that he is still the classical composer for the clarinet. It is a remarkable instance of his power of penetrating into the nature jof instruments, that though not able to play the clarinet himself he should have so far developed its resources that since his day no substantial advance has been made by com- posers in handling the instrument. His three clarinet-concertos (ops. 73, 74, and 26, the last a concertino) were all written in 1811, when he was living in Munich in constant inter- course with Barmann. We have also two works for PF. and clarinet, Variations on a theme from Silvana, and a fine Duo concertante in three movements, op. 48. Wind-instruments are now out of fashion for concert-playing, and one seldom hears anything on such occasions but the piano and violin, instead of the pleasing variety which used to prevail with so much advantage to art, and this has caused a most re- gretable neglect of Weber's clarinet concertos. But seldom as these are heard, those he wrote for other wind-instruments are never played at all. And yet the concertos for horn, bassoon, and flute, testify very remarkably to his won- derful gift for penetrating into the nature of an instrument.

21. Weber's turn for literary composition, de- veloped most strongly between the years 1809 and 1818, has been already mentioned. 3 A few remarks on the value of his literary compositions will fitly close our review of his productive work. As a rule his pen was naturally employed on musical matters, only one of his newspaper articles being on a general s u b j ect 'Ueber Baden-Baden,* Aug. I, 1810. His talent for authorship was un- doubtedly considerable. His narrative is clear and intelligible, his style correct, elegant, and lively, with a certain freedom not at all unbecoming. Now and then, too, he wrote successful verses. Our great composers from Handel to Beethoven did not meddle with authorship. In this re- spect, as in so many others, Weber was the first of a new generation of artists. It pleased him to reveal the ideas with which his mind was crowded in words as well as in music. This is evident from his active correspondence. A large part of this would well bear publication, for Weber's letters are more amusing and contain more information than those of any other German musician. As an author he was the precursor of Schumann and Wagner, over whose music, too, his own exercised so great an in- fluence. But unlike them he did not concentrate

  • Weber's posthumous writings came out originally in 3 vols.

(Arnold, Dresden and Leipzig), and were republished as vol. lit. of Max ron Weber's 'LebensbUd,'

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