(b Basle, 2 Feb 1954). Swiss composer and pianist. After attending the Basle Conservatory, where he studied the piano with Klaus Linder (1973–7) and composition with Jacques Wildberger, he continued his composition studies with Kagel at the Cologne Musikhochschule (1978–81), and was Kagel's assistant between 1979 and 1981. Besides his activities as a freelance composer, he teaches the piano and electronic music at the Musikakademie of Basle.
Weissberg's works are the product of an extremely wide-ranging concept of music which makes use of both the environmental factors of music-making and media beyond the field of music itself. A considerable number of his compositions can be classified as ‘instrumental theatre’ in Kagel's sense, and the visual aspects of sound production also play an important part in his works of absolute music, for instance in using additional instruments or unusual performance methods. His interest in modern music drama and the scenic elements of music has led, among other things, to several works produced in collaboration with the video artist Franz Schnyder. Besides electro-acoustic works, he has written several compositions for radio, often in collaboration with the producer and conductor Manfred Reichert. He received the 1995 Prix Italia for the radio play Sind Töne Töne oder sind Töne Webern?, and in 1997 was awarded the Kunstpreis of the canton of Solothurn.
Multi-media: Der Schein, 10 musicians-actors, nar, video projection, 1992–3; Harpeggio, hp, live elecs, live video, 1996; Über Schrift, 2 str qts, 4 TV monitors, CD, 1997
Music-theatre: Like a Rolling Stone, 2 props managers, lighting technician, 1978–85; 3 Walzer, pf, 1981–2; Charakterstück, marimbaphon 6 hands, 1984–8; 7 Handlungen, perc trio, 1986; Effoh, 2 gui, 1991; Christophers Gaten (stage music, F. van der Kooij), 1992; Gaspard, perc trio, pf, 1994; Kommentar, wind qnt, 1995; Oh mi!, fl, ob, gui, 1998; Tenero tenore tonante, 1v, automatic acc., playback, 1998
Radiophonic and el-ac: Domgeflüster, tape, 1978; Woyzeck (radio play, G. Büchner), 1978–9, collab. C. Carfiol; Der Schein I, va, vc, fl, cl, live elecs, 1987–90; Sind Töne Töne oder sind Töne Webern? (live radio play), 1993–4, collab. M. Reichert and R. Wolff; Fremder Ort Heimat (live radio play), 1995–6, collab. Reichert
‘Jacques Wildberger als Kompositionslehrer’, Jacques Wildberger oder Die Lehre vom anderen, ed. A. Haefeli (Zürich, 1995), 245–7
‘C'est la création du son qui fait la musique’, Dissonanz, no.48 (1996), 13–16
Weissberg, Julia Lazarevna.
SeeVeysberg, Yuliya Lazarevna.
Weisse, Christian Felix
(b Annaberg, Erzgebirge, 28 Jan 1726; d Leipzig, 16 Dec 1804). German poet, dramatist and librettist. He went to Leipzig in 1745 to study philology and theology at the university and settled there permanently, earning his living from 1750 in the service of a local count, first as steward and from 1762 as collector of taxes. In the 1750s he established his reputation as a dramatist, lyric poet, translator and critic; he edited the review Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften from 1759. He also prepared German versions of two popular English ballad operas, The Devil to Pay and The Merry Cobbler, both set by J.C. Standfuss. During the Seven Years War Weisse travelled with the count to Paris, where he remained from 1759 to 1760, meeting Rousseau and being much struck by the naive and popular charm of C.-S. Favart’s comic operas. When he began writing German librettos again for the Koch company at Leipzig in 1763, Weisse at first reworked his two early texts but then turned to French models.
In the settings by J.A. Hiller, Weisse’s dramas of idealized rustic simplicity and virtue found immediate favour and unprecedented box-office success throughout Germany, although he never took them seriously as dramas. After 1773, irked by professional criticism, he ceased writing librettos for public performance. From 1776 to 1782 he edited a periodical for children, Der Kinderfreund, to which he contributed several didactic one-act comic operas, set by Hiller, Georg Benda and Michael Haydn.
Although Weisse sought to moderate the earthy tone of his English models, his first two operas remain farces tinged with sentimental touches. They were favourites throughout the century. His subsequent French-inspired librettos all turn on the familiar opposition of rustic innocence and the corrupt insincerity of the court or city. The musical texts are largely decorative strophic songs that stand apart from any dramatic involvement; on occasion they were simply omitted and the libretto was presented with success as a spoken drama. Die Jagd (1770) forms the summit of Weisse’s collaboration with Hiller, both epitomizing and perfecting the features common to all their comic operas: the simple if static joys of country life, a preoccupation with sympathetic characters including a benevolent and fatherly ruler, a tearful reunion scene as the dramatic climax and lyric emphasis on the female partner of each of its three couples. It has remained popular in Germany into the present century. Weisse’s lyric poetry prompted settings by many composers, including J.A. Scheibe, Hiller, Johann André, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven; the Scherzhafte Lieder and the Kleine Lieder für Kinder, in particular, match the liveliness and variety of his operatic song texts.
Edition: Komische Opern von C.F. Weisse (Leipzig, 1768–71, 2/1777–8)
komische Opern unless otherwise stated
Die verwandelten Weiber, oder Der Teufel ist los, erster Theil, J.C. Standfuss and J.A. Hiller, 1766; Der lustige Schuster, oder Der Teufel ist los, zweyter Theil, Standfuss and Hiller, 1766; Lottchen am Hofe, Hiller, 1767; Die Liebe auf dem Lande, Hiller, 1768; Die Jagd, Hiller, 1770 (J.B. Schenk, 1799); Der Ärndtekranz, Hiller, 1771; Der Dorfbalbier, Hiller and Neefe, 1771; Der Krieg (with C.F. Ramler), Hiller, 1772; Die Jubelhochzeit, Hiller, 1773; Die Schadenfreude (kleines Lustspiel für Kinder mit Liederchen), G.P. Weimar, 1776 (André, 1778); Das Findelkind, oder Unverhofft kömmt oft (children’s operetta), G. Benda, unperf.; Die kleine Ährenleserinn (Lustspiel für Kinder), Hiller, 1778, unperf.; Die Friedensfeyer, oder Die unvermuthete Wiederkunft (children’s play), Hiller, unperf.; Das Denkmal in Arkadien (ländliches Schauspiel für die Jugend mit untermischten Gesängen), Hiller, unperf.
Richard III, Romeo und Julia (both after W. Shakespeare), incid music by J.W. Hertel, 1767
Scherzhafte Lieder (Leipzig, 1758)
Amazonenlieder (Leipzig, 1760)
Kleine Lieder für Kinder … mit Melodien, i (Flensburg, 1766) [with music by J.A. Scheibe], ii (Flensburg, 1767); rev. enlarged 1769 as Lieder für Kinder [with new music by Hiller]
Kleine lyrische Gedichte (Leipzig, 1772)
C.E.Weisse and S.G.Frisch, eds.: Christian Friedrich Weissens Selbstbiographe (Leipzig, 1806)
J.Minor: Christian Felix Weisse und seine Beziehungen zur deutschen Literatur des 18en Jahrhunderts (Innsbruck, 1880)
M.Friedlaender: Das deutsche Lied im 18en Jahrhundert (Stuttgart and Berlin, 1902/R)
T.Bauman: Music and Drama in Germany: a Travelling Company and its Repertory, 1767–1781 (diss., U. of California, Berkeley, 1977)
B.H.van Boer: ‘Coffey’s The Devil to Pay, the Comic War, and the Emergence of the German Singspiel’, JMR, viii (1988), 119–39