Author: Morgan, Joseph E
Date published: June 1, 2012
Weberiana. Heft 21. (Mitteilungen der Internationalen Carl Maria von Weber Gesellschaft.) Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2011. [236 p. ISBN 9783862960231. i28.] Music examples, illustrations.
It has been over fifteen years since Michael C. Tusa first reported to Notes on the inauguration of the Weber-Studien, describing its first issue and, by implication, the Carl Maria von Weber Gesamtausgabe (WeGA), to which it is a parallel publication, as bringing "a refreshing focus on sources to a field that has all too often been content to rely on the bibliographic and biographic work of the nineteenth century" (Notes 52, no. 2 [December 1995]: 468). With the stated goal of creating a complete edition of Weber's musical works, letters, writings and diaries by 2026 (the second centenary of the composer's death), the WeGA was indeed embarking on an ambitious project when it was constituted in 1992. Furthermore, a year earlier a related organization had been founded: the Inter - nationale Carl-Maria-von-Weber Gesell - schaft, which supports and assists in directing the work of WeGA, and which since 1992 has published Weberiana, an annual publication containing scholarly contributions from its members and reports on the work of the WeGA. Now that we are a little more than halfway to that 2026 goal, perhaps this is an excellent time to assess WeGA's progress and review the most recent issue of Weberiana.
As detailed in the "Arbeitsberichte" section of Weberiana, the most striking aspect of the project is its digital portion. One example of this is the digital editions that WeGA has been developing with the Edirom project (a project that specializes in the development of digital critical editions of music) to create critical editions of Weber's music on DVD. The software is designed for both the musicologist and performer, being capable of simultaneously presenting variant readings as well as facsimilies of the sources themselves. The DVD also contains complete letters and other primary documents that relate to the score. Further, when installed onto a computer, the edition may be "updated" to include any future developments in the software and additional links to related sources as they surface.
Another example of the society's digital work is the new website, http://www.webergesamtausgabe. de (accessed 10 January 2012), where all of Weber's letters, writings, diaries and documents will eventually be made available to the general public. Already a fair number of these are present and completely searchable; some of them (and eventually all of them) with built-in links to pages describing works and people mentioned by Weber in them. Clicking on a name's link leads to a page where brief bio graphical information, iconography, and links to further named figures can be found. This new resource is very exciting, although it does give one pause to also see links to Wikipedia articles given for each figure. Finally, the WeGA is light years ahead of many other societies in terms of digital presence: by maintaining a text that adheres to TEI (text encoding initiative), it is part of a growing consortium of projects seeking interconnectivity with the goal of reaching across all "discipline boundaries in order to build complex descriptions of historical facts that have never before been possible" (p. 134; translations throughout this review are mine).
Apart from the digital projects, the "Arbeitsberichte" section also describes the WeGA's paper-based publishing, which is continuing apace. In 2010 alone, three volumes appeared in the WeGA: piano scores of incidental and concert arias as well as overtures (ser. 8, vol. 7), the vocal score of Silvana, WeV. C.5a (ser. 8, vol. 1), and concertos and concertinos for clarinet and orchestra (ser. 5, vol. 6). While fewer than half of Weber's works had appeared in the WeGA by the midway point to 2026, and while one may be particularly eager to see editions of the big operas (Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon), if the WeGA can manage to keep up this pace, it will surely catch up in short order.
Concerning the scholarship in this issue of Weberiana, it is not surprising that much of it is drawn from this remarkable access to primary source documents from Weber's time, as evinced from the obligatory quote in the title of each article. For example, in " 'Unrichtigkeit' oder 'Ungenauigkeit'? Der Streit um Webers Berliner Euryanthe-Honorar im Kontext der Auseinander setzungen zwischen Brühl und Spontini," Eveline Bartlitz surveys reports and investigations from Weber's contemporaries to reveal the highly politicized controversy surrounding the Berlin premiere of Weber's Euryanthe in 1825. Bartlitz's drama hinges on the conflict between Count Carl von Brühl (the Intendant- General of the Prussian Royal Theater) and Gaspare Spontini (Generalmusikdirektor of the Berlin Hofoper). Apparently, Spontini's animosity toward Weber began in 1821 when the premiere of Der Freischütz at the new Schinkel Theater in the Gendar - menmarkt undermined an otherwise successful premiere run of Spontini's own Olympia. In 1824, when Weber's score for Euryanthe was offered for production in Berlin, Brühl raised Spontini's ire by demanding that Weber's score be approved immediately without the "otherwise usual examination of its [Euryanthe's] internal worth" (p. 17). Spontini did not agree with Brühl's demand, and a very public debate ensued. The result of this debate was that the authorities intervened and chastised Spontini for not duly examining the contents of the score. Bartlitz's article ends when the role of antagonist shifts from Spontini to the Prussian royal minister Wilhelm Ludwig Georg Fürst zu Wittgen - stein, who neglected to remunerate Weber for the Berlin premiere of Euryanthe until February 1826. One can see evidence here of Brühl's remarkably cumbersome business acumen, just as in his relationship with Spontini, and Brühl can be seen as just as culpable as Wittgenstein in the latter's not paying Weber. Indeed, Bartlitz remarks in closing that Brühl never improved at his job before leaving it in 1828, as exemplified by the fact that it also took more than a year for Weber's final opera Oberon to reach the stage in Berlin.
The first of Frank Ziegler's two articles, " 'Nie habe ich so viel Pracht u. Glanz beysammen gesehen . . .' Bemerkungen zu Musik und Theater in Dresden in den Tagebüchern der Caroline von Linden - fels," provides, as its title implies, a contemporary account of the theater and music in Dresden as given in the diary entries of Caroline von Lindenfels, the daughter of a provincial Prussian officer who visited Dresden five times in her life. Of particular interest are those visits that occurred in 1818 and 1824 while Weber held the position of Royal Saxon Kapellmeister at the court. For example, portions of the diary from her 1818 visit provide an important description of the music in the church services at Dresden. A Protestant, Linden fels also attended Roman Catholic services at the Hofkirche specifically for the musical performances. There she was afforded a glimpse of the royal family (whom she describes in fine detail), and also heard the castrato Giovanni Sassoroli sing. She described his performance as artificial (künst - lich), remarking that a voice she at first thought belonged to a woman actually belonged to a "large, strong man." To this, Ziegler provides additional contemporary descriptions that position Lindenfel's account within a broader aesthetic debate concerning the interpretation of the castrato voice as either an unnatural abomination or one that "merges the delight of male and female beauty in [ . . . ] a pure, almost angelic, celestial, ethereal and neutral character" (p. 43). In at least two instances Lindenfels saw opera productions led by Weber: Rossini's Elisabetta regina d'inghilterra in 1818, which she found to be a little boring; and Weber's own Freischütz in 1824, which she described extensively. While she enjoyed many aspects of the latter production, she had difficulty with the literalism of the staging: "The antics of the manifestations in the Wolf 's Glen, do not deserve mention because there is no deception, there a child can see that the monsters are of cardboard, and the ghosts are painted in black cloth, but the music is excellent" (pp. 50, 52). It is worth noting that this is a problem that continues to confront productions of Weber's opera. Above all, Lindenfels's account, to which Ziegler provides an excellent discussion, is a powerful description of musical life in early-nineteenth-century Dresden.
The next two articles, by Till Gerrit Waidelich and Frank Ziegler (the second of his two), both describe secondary composers and their relationship to Weber and other members of the Harmonischer Verein, a secret society. Waidelich's article, " 'Ich will es nicht, wie weiland Carl Maria, machen.' Conradin Kreutzer, Weber, Meyer beer und Friedrich Kind," begins by tracing the rarely investigated relationships among the title figures (and Johann Baptist Gänsbacher) and between them and the Harmonischer Verein. The second part of the article describes Kreutzer's experiences conducting Weber's works in Vienna. An important aspect of this section is a letter Kreutzer wrote to Anton Schindler in response to the latter's criticism of the Vienna premiere of Euryanthe, a criticism Schindler published in the first edition of his biography of Beethoven (Biographie von Ludwig van Beethoven [Münster: Aschen - dorff, 1840]). In the letter Kreutzer explains how he came to cut more than 400 measures from Weber's score. From here, the article follows Kreutzer's relationship with Meyerbeer. Not surprisingly, after Meyerbeer's success in Paris with Robert le diable, Les Huguenots, and Le Prophète, Kreutzer's attitude towards the younger composer warmed considerably. Waidelich then discusses Kreutzer's arrangement of Weber's music for calliope, and concludes with an account of Kreutzer's unsuccessful efforts to acquire a libretto for a new opera from Friedrich Kind.
Ziegler's " '[. . .] kannst vor der Hand zufrieden damit sein daß es mir recht sehr gefällt.' Carl Maria von Weber and Gottfried Webers Te Deum" focuses on the early reception of one of Gottfried Weber's most ambitious works, his Te Deum, op. 18, and the efforts of the Harmonischer Verein to get it performed. Meyerbeer showed disinterest in the composition from the outset, but Carl Maria von Weber committed himself to supporting his friend, conducting a performance of it in Prague in 1813 and working (unsuccessfully) to get it published by Ambrosius Kühnel in Leipzig that same year. Despite these efforts, Gottfried Weber became bitter, feeling that he was doing more work for other members of the society than they were for him. In order to placate his friend, Carl Maria von Weber wrote a review of the Te Deum for the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in 1814. Relations between the two warmed after the review appeared and also after the Te Deum began to experience success; its dedication to "Germany's victorius army" came to the attention of Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III, after which several performances followed in short order.
In all, a common thread in these four articles is the remarkable social network of which Weber was a part, and each article in its own way reveals and emphasizes important aspects of his life. Indeed, this is the very kind of research that will be facilitated by the WeGA's work in creating free access to the documents of Weber's world-work that, in turn, will be reported in subsequent issues of Weberiana.
JOSEPH E. MORGAN
New England Conservatory