(b Mannheim, 18 April 1764; d Berlin, 23 March 1821). German pianist, conductor and composer. In 1773 he studied first keyboard playing with Vogler, and then singing and theory respectively with Holzbauer and Einberger, a pupil of Vogler. From 1775 he received instruction in composition from Vogler, who published a keyboard sonata by Weber in his Mannheimer Monatsschrift in 1780. Other early compositions include a collection of songs published with F. Fraenzl the younger in 1784. After studying theology and law at Heidelberg in 1781, Weber is thought to have toured as a virtuoso on Röllig's Xänorphika (an experimental keyboard instrument in which the tone was produced by friction), before becoming musical director of Grossmann's theatre company in Hanover in 1787. Here he became acquainted with the music of Handel and also produced his first stage work. In 1790 he joined Vogler in a tour through Holland, parts of Germany and Scandinavia, at the same time continuing his studies in counterpoint. After a prolonged stay in Stockholm, where he wrote several pieces of church music, Weber appeared with great success as a keyboard virtuoso at Hamburg.
In 1792 Weber was appointed joint musical director with Bernhard Wessely of the Nationaltheater in Berlin, and in 1793 he travelled to other parts of Germany, and especially to Vienna, to engage singers for the Berlin theatre. Subsequently he wrote an article on the Viennese theatre and singers for the Berliner Musikzeitung. In Vienna he became acquainted with Salieri, who encouraged him in the composition of stage works and made him more familiar with Gluck's operas. On his return to Berlin, Weber arranged the first performance of a Gluck opera there. The success of the production of Iphigénie en Tauride, which took place under Weber's direction on 24 February 1795, was a factor in his appointment in 1796 as first musical director of the theatre with a salary of 1000 thalers; previously he had been offered but had refused an engagement at Rheinsberg, which Wessely then accepted.
On 10 March 1800 Weber's heroic Singspiel Mudarra (text by Karl Alexander Herklots) was produced at the Berlin Opera without success. His next work, also to a text by Herklots, was a lyrisches Monodrama, Hero, written for Madame Schick. Weber also set a lyrisches Duodrama by Herklots, Sulmalle (1802), and Schiller's spoken melodrama Der Gang nach dem Eisenhammer (c1810). Besides further operas, including Die Wette (1805), the text of which was a German translation of P. Guillet's Un quart d'heure de silence set in 1804 by Gaveaux, and Deodata (1810), to a text by Kotzebue, Weber wrote incidental music to plays, the most famous being Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1804).
In 1800 Weber went on a concert tour to Breslau with the violinist Ernst Schick and his wife, and in 1803 he visited Paris with Kotzebue and became acquainted with Cherubini. On his return he was given the title of Kapellmeister, and he retained his position as first musical director when the German and Italian theatres were merged in 1811. Only after a serious illness in 1818 was he compelled to withdraw gradually from his duties, before Spontini was appointed as general musical director in 1820. He was a prolific composer; a list of his compositions is in Carl von Ledebur's Tonkünstler-Lexicon Berlin's (Berlin, 1861, pp.627–8). However, only individual songs from his stage works retained their popularity, especially the melodies to ‘Mit dem Pfeil dem Bogen’ and ‘Rasch tritt der Tod den Menschen an’ from his music to Wilhelm Tell. His main achievement was as a conductor of other composers' music, particularly that of Gluck.
(b Wolferschwenda, nr Sondershausen, 1 Dec 1712; d Tennstedt, nr Erfurt, 5 Feb 1758). German organist and composer. From 1732 until his death he served the Stadtkirche, Tennstedt, as organist. G.H. Noah, who knew J.S. Bach and came to Tennstedt as Kantor in 1743, possibly encouraged Weber to write a set of 24 preludes and fugues entitled Das Wohltemperierte Clavier which imitated Bach’s work. As the manuscript (in B-Bc; ed. M. Seiffert, Veröffentlichungen der Neuen Bachgesellschaft, xxxiv/1, Leipzig, 1933) is wrongly dated 1689, Weber was for some time considered Bach’s precursor.
W.Tappert: ‘Das wohltemperierte Klavier von B. Chr. Weber’, AMz, vii (1880), 353–5
(b Weissenfels, c1540; d Naumburg, early 1599). German composer. He studied in Leipzig, and was a Kantor in Weissenfels from 1558 to 1566 and in Naumburg until 1568. From that year until 1574 he lived in Weissenfels but held no professional appointment. Subsequently he again became a Kantor. In 1595 or 1596 he once more settled in Naumburg. He was considered a competent composer by his contemporaries, and it is highly probable that Schütz received his earliest musical instruction between 1590 and 1595 from him.
Only one of Weber's published works is extant as far as is known (see Finscher, p.63); the titles of the lost works, however, indicate that he contributed to the development of Protestant church music in the second half of the 16th century both in the fields of the homophonic chorale and the chanson motet. The one surviving work is his Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen des … Herrn D. Martinus Lutheri … nach Ordnung der Jahrzeit (Erfurt, 1588, enlarged 2/1594); it comprises 51 four-part homophonic settings, the cantus firmus being placed in the highest part, and follows the general pattern (Kantionalsatz) established by Osiander in 1586. The songs, however, are intended for singing by students in the streets, not for use in church services; they are, therefore, not wholly homophonic and do not always adhere strictly to the traditional chorale melodies.
A third edition of this publication appeared in 1596, Geistliche deutzsche Lieder und Psalmen … erstlichen mit 4 Stimmen, jetztund aber alle mit 8 Stimmen uff 2 Chor zu singen, with each piece arranged for eight-part double choir. Manuscript sources preserve two motets by Weber: Allein zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, for eight voices, and Surge propera amica mea, for six voices (in D-Dl and Mbs respectively). He also wrote two volumes of psalm settings, Teutsche Psalmen … Davids mit 4, 5 und 6 Stimmen (Mühlhausen, 1568–9), but these are now lost.
A.Werner: Städtische und fürstliche Musikpflege in Weissenfels (Leipzig, 1911)
L.Finscher: ‘Das Kantional des Georg Weber aus Weissenfels’, Jb für Liturgik und Hymnologie, iii (1957), 62–78