Overture to Der Freischütz (1820)
Carl Maria von Weber (1786 – 1826)
Born into a family of accomplished musicians, Weber showed early promise, but failed to respond to his father’s tutelage and hopes of producing another Mozart. Later, taught by both Michael and Joseph Haydn, Weber blossomed. He was Kapellmeister at the Dresden Opera when he wrote his seventh opera Der Freischütz. Literally The Free Shooter, it is celebrated as a purely German opera and tells of a hunter who bargains with the devil to acquire a supply of bullets that can be guided to their target by the marksman’s will.
The overture weaves together several of the work’s most important themes in a rousing introduction to the action. It showcases Weber’s talents for masterful orchestration and compelling evocation of mood. The overture is a study in contrasts between natural and supernatural, light and dark, slow and fast, major and minor. The horns are used to represent hunting and the country life, and low registers of strings and wind to conjure up the sinister and gloomy.
Performed: 15 and 22/3/2015