The Composer C.E.F.Weyse (1774-1842)
In the eighteen and nineteenth century learned people came to Denmark from Germany. Weyse was the most celebrated composer in Denmark in his time called “The Golden Age”. As a composer who maintained the ideals of Viennese classicism in Danish music. He is perhaps best remembered today for his melody to Grundtvig’s hymn Den signede dag (The blessed day) and the popular romantic hymn, Det er så yndigt at følges ad (To walk together is fair.)
At YouTube you can have an example of The Lied genre or “Romance” but he also composed many symphonies and cantatas and piano compositions.
Christoph Ernst Friederich Weyse was born in Altona an important university city in Germany. (Until 1864 Altona was administrated by the Danish Royal family.)
His father died when he was only 6 years old. His grandfather was a teacher and musician at the gymnasium in Altona where the boy Weyse sang solo parts in the church as he had a distinct and beautiful voice. He also was very skilled in playing piano and violin. His mother died when he was fifteen. Family and friends helped him to travel to Copenhagen to get an education in classical music. He left Kiel on a ship and after five days in bad weather he arrived to Copenhagen. He never travelled again.
A music teacher and composer Schultz took him as his son for three years until he started to earn a salary. Weyse was an expert of improvisation and played in music clubs and in private homes where he was a guest at dinners. He got a very varied literary education as well as training in playing the organ, which became his main instrument. Due to his introverted nature he didn’t become a concert pianist but earned his living as an organist in churches in Copenhagen and as a composer of many compositions.
At the time the girls in the rich families got music lessons and that’s how he got to know the house of Tutein, (also a composer) to teach his girls piano lessons. He was 27 years old and fell in love with the eighteen year old Julie Tutein. They were both in love but the father of Julie was very upset and the relationship was torn apart abruptly. Three years later Julie married a rich Dutch merchant.
My blogging friend Charles Thibo with his blog De Chareli ” It’s all about music. Classical music”, was so kind to help me reviewing this post and mentioned that the love story reminded him of Robert Schumann and Clara in Leipzig.
Weyse was left devastated and said about him self:
Everything is indifferent to me and that I just continue life in a mechanical way to earn my bread and I live like a vegetation.
The next three years continued in this way but slowly he returned to productivity. In May 1807 he went to see Mozart’s Don Giovanni and this opera brought him back to life. He completed his opera “The Sleeping Drink” and it became an enormous success. Many of his operas are forgotten but some of the songs are still performed today. He also did operas with texts by Hans Christians Andersen, whom he had taken care of a lot. They both came to Copenhagen as orphans and teenagers they had a lot in common. Unfortunately Andersen’s texts were not enough dramatic to let the plays become popular.
Schumann, Liszt and Constance, Mozart’s widow recommended him as a very good composer and musician. He was said to be one of the greatest organists ever being able to improvise long pieces of music.
He never married after the loss of Julie and died in Copenhagen 68 years old.