Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)
With his “Der Freischütz,” Carl Maria von Weber secured himself an outstanding and lasting reputation as the father of the German national opera. He also composed the first clarinet concertos of the romantic era.
His brilliant piano piece “Aufforderung zum Tanz” became so popular that it was arranged several times for orchestra, including by Hector Berlioz. Weber was also one of the leading opera conductors of his day and a virtuoso pianist. As a conductor, he is responsible for the breakthrough of the baton and for the seating arrangement of the orchestra, which is still valid in opera houses today.
Weber was born in 1786 in the Principality of Lübeck, from where he undertook many travels through a great number of German lands. His father, an uncle of Constanze Mozart's, directed a theater troupe for a certain amount of time. Weber was appointed Kapellmeister in Breslau at the age of 17 and made a respectable name for himself as a stage composer with “Silvana” in Frankfurt and “Abu Hassan” in Munich. He also went on concert tours as a pianist and was named opera director in Prague in 1813. In 1817 he was invited to Dresden and a few years later, in 1821, he became the best-known opera composer of his time thanks to the Berlin premiere performance of “Der Freischütz”. He died shortly after the premiere of his “Oberon” in London from chronic tuberculosis, aged not yet 40.