Freischutzism

Posted on 8th July 2020 by simonbeattie

A few years ago, I wrote about an early piece of English lithographed music, from the 1820s. As I said at the time, British music publishers largely neglected lithography in the first four decades of the nineteenth century, but it did serve its purpose well for William Hawkes Smith’s privately-printed music with his own illustrations between the staves.

The past few weeks I have been cataloguing new stock in preparation for my annual summer list of material relating to the Theatre. (If you would like a copy when it’s out, just let me know, or sign up for future e-lists at the bottom of the E-lists page of the website.) One item to be included is the following, which immediately put me in mind of Smith’s work:

In the 1820s, Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) became the leading exponent of German opera and, thanks to the popularity of Der Freischütz (1821), an international celebrity.  The success of the opera ‘was immediate and long-lasting.  Within a few years it conquered all the major stages of Europe.  By 1830 it had been produced in Danish, Swedish, Czech, Russian, English, French, Hungarian, Polish and Dutch, and before 1850 it was staged as far afield as Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney’ (New Grove Dictionary of Opera).

Success led to parody, as this rare anonymous work from 1824 shows, poking fun at the appeal of the supernatural and the gothic, and their presentation on the stage:

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