Sophie Weber

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Maria Sophie Weber (1763[1] – 1846) was a singer of the 18th and 19th centuries. She was the younger sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's wife Constanze, and is remembered primarily for the testimony she left concerning the life and death of her brother-in-law.

Life[edit]

She was born into a musical family, the youngest of four sisters all of whom became trained singers; two achieved professional fame: the eldest sister Josepha Weber and the second eldest Aloysia Weber. Her mother was Cäcilia Weber. She moved with the family, first to Munich, then to Vienna, following the burgeoning career of Aloysia. Sophie herself sang at the Burgtheater in the 1780–1781 season,[2] but apparently did not make any kind of long-term success as a singer.

When Mozart moved to Vienna in 1781, and lodged for a time with the Weber family, he seems to have flirted with both Sophie and Constanze (the latter of whom he eventually courted and married). The incomplete Allegro in B flat KV 400, written by Mozart at this time, contains (in W. Dean Sutcliffe]'s words) "a self-contained melodic episode in G minor, with the names of Sophie and Costanze[ sic] Weber inscribed above a pair of prolonged sigh figures."[3] In a letter of 15 December 1781, Mozart described Sophie as "good-natured but feather-brained."[4] In 1782, when Mozart and Constanze were married, she was the only Weber sister who was present at the ceremony.[2]

In December 1791, when Mozart died, Sophie was 28 years old, and was the only daughter in the family still unmarried. She lived with Cäcilia, but was frequently present in the Mozart household during the composer’s brief but harrowing final illness and death, and helped Constanze care for her dying husband.

She was married (7 January 1807) in Djakovar, Slavonia (today called Đakovo, in Croatia) to Jakob Haibel (1762–1826), a tenor singer, actor, and composer; he was the author of a successful Singspiel that was performed many times by the theatrical troupe of Emanuel Schikaneder.[2] Haibel, who is said by some already to have left his first wife in 1804 to run away to Sophie in Croatia, was the cathedral choirmaster in Djakovar.[5] Following Haibel’s death in 1826 Sophie moved to Salzburg, where Constanze, for the second time a widow, was living. After 1831 they were joined by their similarly widowed sister Aloysia, who however died in 1839. The two younger sisters went on living together there until Constanze’s death in 1842.[2]

Sophie outlived her younger nephew Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart by two years and died in Salzburg in 1846, aged 83.

Remembrances of Mozart[edit]

Sophie's own remembrances of Mozart and his death, described by the Grove Dictionary author as "moving," come from a letter she wrote to Constanze's second husband Georg Nikolaus von Nissen, for the purpose of helping with the biography of Mozart that Nissen and Constanze were preparing. She was also interviewed by Vincent and Mary Novello in 1829 during the journey they undertook to gather information about Mozart. For some of her remembrances, see Death of Mozart.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Clive lists this as an uncertain date, giving no place. The Grove Dictionary gives her birth date and location as: October 1763, in Zell im Wiesental.
  2. ^ a b c d Clive, 172
  3. ^ Sutcliffe (2003, 342)
  4. ^ Grove
  5. ^ Lorenz, Michael: 'Neue Forschungsergebnisse zum Theater auf der Wieden und Emanuel Schikaneder', Wiener Geschichtsblätter, 4/2008, (Vienna: Verein für Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 2008, 15-36.

References[edit]

  • Clive, Peter (1993) Mozart and his Circle: A Biographical Dictionary. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1965) Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Includes an English translation of Sophie's letter to Nissen, describing Mozart's death.
  • Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, online edition, Philipp Spitta: "Weber"
  • Sutcliffe, W. Dean (2003) Review of Richard Jones, ed., Mozart: Mature Piano Pieces. Music and Letters 84:342–344.
  • Allegro in B-flat major, K. 400: Score in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
  • For the passage in the Allegro K. 400 mentioned above, see bars 71 and 72, p. 177 (Score).