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Weber’s piano music

June 12, 2008

Weber’s piano music is discussed in these two extracts.

…it has a completely different character and is much more brilliant and difficult than the first, a really bold piece of Sturm und Drang.

(C.M. von Weber, writing about his second piano concerto in a letter to Gottfried, 1811.)

Weber was as great a master of the guitar as of the piano. His songs, which were not yet well known, and which he would sing with incomparable expression in his weak but uncommonly sweet voice and accompany with real virtuosity on the guitar, were perhaps the most perfect of their kind and won all hearts. When he had worked the group around the open-air tea table up to a pitch of high excitement, he would go to a piano and taking any one of the masterpieces lying there, would use his powers to make everyone feel he had never heard the work until then. Next, to give the singers a rest, he would play some of his own piano pieces, of which the favourite was the as yet unpublished Sonata in C…..Schneider’s pupils would fall on their knees before him. Others put their arms around his shoulders, everyone gathered round him until instead of a circlet of flowers he seemed crowned by a ring of happy friendly faces; and the passionately melancholy style he assumed on these occasions would ring on far into the night in the most profound and serious manner….His improvisations in the vein differed greatly from that of greater (or rather, more accomplished) pianist like Hummel and Kalkbrenner, with whom, however little they may have meant it, there always seemed a desire to please. With Weber the impression at such times was that he had above all found a means of revealing his deepest feelings to his closest friends, and that his whole being was concentrated on making himself understood….

(Heinrich Lichtenstein, in a foreword to his collection, of Weber’s letters, 1833.)

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