C.E.F. Weyse (1774-1842)
“C.E.F. Weyse was probably the greatest Danish vocal composer of the 19th century and a great composer by any standard.” Hans Kuhn: Defining a Nation in Song, Copenhagen, 1990
Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse was the Golden Age's most famous Danish composer. He was born in Altona, then under the Danish crown. In 1785 at the age of 15 he moved to Copenhagen to study with J. A. P. SchuIz, who became his tutor and mentor. Weyse himself highlights his studies of J. S. Bach’s works as being of great influence and is shown in his admirable organ improvisations.
Once in Copenhagen he settled down and never left the country again. In 1790 he worked at the Royal court and the following years he performed as a solo pianist. In 1795 he became the organist of the French-German Reformed Church, and in 1805 of the Cathedral of Copenhagen, where he worked until his death.
In 1797 Weyse began to teach vocal music and his students were first and foremost women from the upper class of Copenhagen. In vocal music he developed Schulz' style and became the creator of the specific Danish romance. In addition to songs and vocal music Weyse composed a string of choir songs and organised choral books. His romances and cantatas are considered highlights of Danish music and are still very much alive in the people.
As a piano virtuoso and composer, and especially as an improviser he was widely respected and compelled even Liszt’ and Schumann's respect though he only left a few small organ pieces behind. However, a great collection of piano works, which reflect Weyse’s own piano skills, sonatas and etudes still exists.
Weyse’s work list includes operas, singspiels, symphonies, overtures, piano and organ works, choral works (sacred and secular), romances and songs.
Weyse’s songs are published as a collection in two volumes – both published by Edition·S – music¬sound¬art. In the first volume of Romances and Songs his arias are avoided intentionally, but in volume two they appear more frequently.