Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Weber, Georg (ii)

(b Dahlen, nr Meissen, c1610; d after 1652). German composer and singer. His varied career began with his appointment as bass singer in the court chapel at Gottorf on 1 October 1632. He seems to have left in 1636, when he went to Frankfurt and Darmstadt, among other places. He may also have gone to Königsberg and taken a master’s degree in philosophy there. He had settled in Stockholm by 1640 and was still there at the time of his second publication in 1645. Between 1647 and 1651 he worked at several churches in Danzig [now Gdańsk]. He then became vicar and succentor at Magdeburg Cathedral. He was an active member of the school of songwriters centred on Königsberg and Danzig. The influence of Heinrich Albert (whose songs were being published in Königsberg) is apparent in Weber’s work, which is somewhat Italianate, especially in the solo songs in the Lebensfrüchte, where recitative-like passages and ornate vocal writing occur. Of some of these solo pieces there are alternative versions in a simpler melodic style for several voices. Weber is particularly important for his cultivation of the instrumentally accompanied song, which was to play such a vital part in the later development of German song; his ritornellos are in a distinctively instrumental style. The texts, some written by himself, belong to the passionate and devotional pietistic literature of the time.


Erster Theil der geistlichen Lieder, melody and bc (Stockholm, 1640); lost, according to MGG1

Andrer Theil der geistlichen Lieder, 1–3vv, viols, bc (Hamburg, 1645); lost, according to MGG1

7 Theile wohlriechender Lebensfrüchte, 1–5vv, 2 vn, bc (Danzig, 1649) [each vol. pubd separately, Königsberg, 1648–9]; 2 songs, 5vv, ed. C. von Winterfeld, Der evangelische Kirchengesang, ii (Leipzig, 1845/R1966), suppl., 56–8

Zwölfferley Glaubensfrüchte, c1650, lost

Kampf und Sieg … eines christlichen Creutzträgers (Hamburg, 1651), lost

Himmel-steigendes Dank-Opffer, melody and bc (Leipzig, 1652)

7 Liebe-, Lob- und Danklieder, melody and bc (n.p., 1653)

Ach, du allerschönste Freude, 1v, 3 viols, bc, D-Bsb



G. Döring: Zur Geschichte der Musik in Preussen (Elbing, 1852–5)

C. Valentin: Geschichte der Musik in Frankfurt (Frankfurt, 1906), 162

H. Rauschning: Geschichte der Musik und Musikpflege in Danzig (Danzig, 1931)


Weber, (Jacob) Gottfried

(b Freinsheim, nr Mannheim, 1 March 1779; d Bad Kreuznach, 21 Sept 1839). German composer and theorist. As a child, he studied the flute and piano, and later the organ and cello. In 1802, after studying law, he settled as a lawyer in Mannheim. There he composed, founded a musical society and conducted concerts; and he befriended Carl Maria von Weber (who was no relation) and Meyerbeer. In 1814 he moved to Mainz and in 1819 to Darmstadt, where he continued his legal career and became Grossherzoglicher Generalstaatsprokurator (General State Prosecutor).

Weber's musical achievements include writings about acoustics, music history, performing practice and theoretical issues; the founding in 1824 of the music journal Cäcilia; and the invention of a chronometer that initially rivalled Maelzel's metronome and a double-slide trombone, considered a predecessor of the Wagner tuba. He was the first to question the complete authenticity of Mozart's Requiem. As a composer, he is recognized for his through-composed lieder and his church music.

Weber is most widely known, however, for his contributions to music theory. His general approach was to reject a single underlying principle for all music and work from compositional practice. He was the first to write an ‘Allgemeine Musiklehre’, a basic music theory manual. In addition, he refined Georg Vogler's step theory (Stufentheorie), which used Roman numerals to associate chord function with scale degree. While Vogler used only upper-case numerals, Weber's system indicated quality as well. He used upper-case numerals for major, lower-case for minor, and a superscript circle for diminished quality. To identify a key, he used upper- or lower-case letters followed by a colon (for example, g: i iv V i), a system still in use.

Weber's chart of key relationships differed significantly from the 18th-century circles of fifths (by Heinichen, Mattheson and others) in that it presented two axes. The vertical axis presented 5th relations, the horizontal presented alternating parallel and relative major–minor keys. This display allowed Weber to include the parallel major–minor among the closest relatives of any key. The scheme was later modified, but only slightly, by Schoenberg in his ‘Chart of the Regions’ (Structural Functions of Harmony).

Weber's theory of harmonic progression took into account what today might be considered music cognition. He posed two principles by which progressions are understood by ‘the ear’. The first asserts that the ear will understand a harmony in the simplest manner possible (for example, the opening triad of a piece will be heard as a tonic). The second, the ‘Principle of Inertia’, asserts that the ear will understand a diatonic harmony as belonging to the prevailing key and a non-diatonic harmony as belonging to the closest possible key. These principles allowed a kind of ‘real time’ analysis in which a chord's context is determined as it is heard.

An important topic throughout Weber's main treatise, Versuch einer geordneten Theorie der Tonsetzkunst (1817–21), is ‘multiple meaning’ (Mehrdeutigkeit). This property, defined as ‘the possibility of explaining an entity in more than one way’, is applied to a large variety of musical elements. For example, a C major harmony may be I in C, III in A minor, IV in G etc. Weber viewed multiple meaning as a vital property of the tonal system, a fertile source of compositional richness and variety. He has been recognized also for his theory of rhythm (which distinguishes accents at several hierarchical levels) and for his harmonic approach to counterpoint.


(selective list)

3 masses, 1817–23, incl. no.1, solo vv, chorus, str, with obbl org, tpts, timp, op.27, vs (Mainz, ?1817); no.2, vv, ob/cl, bn, tpts, timp, str, opt. fl and trbn, op.28, vs (Bonn, 1817)

Requiem, male vv, 2 hn, timp, str (without vn), obbl org, op.24, ?1816, vs (Offenbach, 1817)

Te Deum, op.18, 1814 (Offenbach, ?1814)

15 sets of songs, 1 or more vv, acc, pf/gui, 1811–28, some lost

6 chbr works, incl. Trio, vn, va, vc, op.26 no.1 (Augusta, ?1830); pieces for fl, gui, 1806–23

Sonata, kbd, op.15, 1810


Beschreibung und Tonleiter der Gottfried Weber'schen Doppelposaunen (Mainz, 1817)

Über chronometrische Tempobezeichnung (Mainz, 1817)

Versuch einer geordneten Theorie der Tonsetzkunst zum Selbstunterricht, mit Anmerkungen für Gelehrtere (Mainz, 1817–21, 3/1830–32; Eng. trans., 1846, rev. 2/1851 by J. Bishop)

Foreword to F. Stoepel: Grundzüge der Geschichte der modernen Musik (Berlin, 1821)

Allgemeine Musiklehre zum Selbstunterricht für Lehre und Lernende in vier Vorkapiteln (Darmstadt, 1822, 3/1831; Eng. trans., 1842)

Ergebnisse der bisherigen Forschungen über die Echtheit des Mozart'schen Requiems (Mainz, 1826)

Foreword to K. Berg: Ideen zu einer rationellen Lehrmethode für Musiklehrer (Mainz, 1826)

with H.G. Nägeli: Der Streit zwischen der alten und neuen Musik (Breslau, 1826)

Weitere Ergebnisse der bisherigen Forschungen über die Echtheit des Mozart'schen Requiems (Mainz, 1827)

Die Generalbasslehre zum Selbstunterricht (Mainz, 1833)

Articles in AMZ, Cäcilia and other journals, and in Ersch and Gruber's Enzyklopädie


Grove6 (M. Hoffman) [incl. further bibliography]

MGG1 (A. Lemke)

W. Altmann: ‘Aus Gottfried Webers brieflichen Nachlass’, SIMG, x (1908–9), 477–504

P. Rummenhöller: Musiktheoretisches Denken im 19. Jahrhundert: Versuch einer Interpretation erkenntnisstheoretischer Zeugnisse in der Musiktheorie (Regensburg, 1967)

A. Lemke: Jacob Gottfried Weber: Leben und Werk (Mainz, 1968)

D.W. Beach: ‘The Origins of Harmonic Analysis’, JMT, xviii (1974), 274–307

M. Wagner: Die Harmonielehren der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Regensburg, 1974)

P. Schnaus: ‘Gottfried Weber über C.M. v. Webers Ouvertüre zum Beherrscher der Geister: Romantik und Pseudo-Romantik einer AmZ-Rezension’, Hans Sievers zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. R. Jakoby and G. Katzenberger (Tutzing, 1978), 155–65

B. Höft: ‘Gottfried Weber (1779–1839): ein Porträt’, Mitteilungen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für mittelrheinische Musikgeschichte, no.42 (1981), 45–62

C. Dahlhaus: Die Musiktheorie im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, i: Grundzüge einer Systematik, Geschichte der Musiktheorie, ed. F. Zaminer, x (Darmstadt, 1984)

R. Wason: Viennese Harmonic Theory from Albrechtsberger to Schenker and Schoenberg (Ann Arbor, 1985)

E.W. Marvin: ‘Tonpsychologie and Musikpsychologie: Historical Perspectives on the Study of Music Perception’, Theoria, ii (1987), 59–84

J.K. Saslaw: ‘Gottfried Weber and Multiple Meaning’, Theoria, v (1990–91), 74–103

J.K. Saslaw: ‘Gottfried Weber's Cognitive Theory of Harmonic Progression’, SMC, xiii (1991), 121–44

J.K. Saslaw: Gottfried Weber and the Concept of Mehrdeutigkeit (diss., Columbia U., 1992)

J.K. Saslaw and J.P. Walsh: ‘Musical Invariance as a Cognitive Structure: “Multiple Meaning” in the Early Nineteenth Century’, Music Theory in the Age of Romanticism, ed. I. Bent (Cambridge, 1996), 211–32


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