Karl Maria Friedrich Ernst Von Weber, baron, a German composer, born at Eutin near Lübeck, Dec. 18, 1786, died in London, June 5, 1826. His father, who was a musician, gave him a liberal education and afforded him the means for studying music and painting. He was taught first by the pianist Hauschkel of Hildburghausen, and afterward by Michael Haydn. In 1798 Weber's first productions, six fughetti, were published by his father. He soon went to Munich, where he received lessons in singing from Valesi, and in composition from Kalcher, the organist of the court chapel. Here he composed works which he subsequently destroyed. His fondness for pictorial art was revived by the discovery of lithography, to which he gave himself up for a considerable time, endeavoring to effect improvements upon the original invention. But in 1800 he returned to the study of music, and produced an opera called Das Waldmadchen. In 1801 he composed Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn, which met with slight success. In 1802 he went to Vienna, where he remained two years, studying with the abbe Vogler. He next became chapelmaster at Breslau, where he hastily composed an opera called Rübezahl. In 1806 he entered into the employment of Prince Eugene of Wurtemberg, and produced at Carlsruhe in Silesia two symphonies and a number of less important works.
The troubles of the period compelling him to abandon this situation, he resided for a while at Stuttgart as private secretary with the dissolute Prince Louis of Wurtemberg, for whom he rewrote Das Waldmadchen, under the new title of Sylvana. In 1810 he began a professional tour of the principal cities of Germany. At Darmstadt he composed Abu Hassan. From 1813 to 1816 he conducted the opera at Prague, and afterward was manager of the German opera at Dresden until his death. In 1822 he produced at Berlin his principal work, Der Freischutz, which has since held its place on the operatic stage. In 1823 Euryanthe was first performed at Vienna, with less success. In 1824, soon after the reproduction of his chef d'ozuvre in England, he was applied to by Charles Kemble for an opera for London; and on April 12, 1826, Oberon was first represented at the Covent Garden theatre. Weber himself conducted the performance, and was saluted with unprecedented ardor. He died suddenly of consumption at the house of his friend Sir George Smart, and was buried at Moorfields, whence his remains were in 1844 removed to Dresden. - Weber's mind was sensitive and poetic, and he found congenial material in the musical treatment of subjects in which the fanciful legendary and supernatural elements predominate.
Such a subject was presented in Der Freischutz, and his scene in the wolf's glen in that opera is one of the boldest and most original pieces of musical coloring that any composer of this century has produced. He took rank at the head of the so-called romantic school. He possessed great harmonic invention and a vein of fresh and beautiful melody. The character of Agatha in Der Freischutz is one of the most firmly drawn and beautiful pieces of musical portraiture known to the operatic stage. His influence on the pianoforte playing of his day was also considerable, and many of his compositions of that class, such as his Concertstuck and his '"Invitation to the Waltz," are examples of fine melodic invention, beauty of form, and delicate fancy. He left also a number of literary compositions relating to musical subjects. His life, in three volumes, by his son Max Maria von Weber, has been translated into English by J. Palgrave Simpson (2 vols., London, 1865).