Comments on Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo,
2. Andante
By Terry B. Ewell
With excerpts from the 1984 television broadcast with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra; Vilem Sokol, conducting. BDP#190.

Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber.

Welcome, I am Terry Ewell. This is your video on the Andante from Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo.

I mentioned in the prior video some of the Hungarian rhythmic aspects of the Rondo. The Hungarian aspects expressed in the Andante are quite different. The Lombard rhythm, short-long, starts the melody in measure two and is repeated many times. Portions of this movement refer to the Siciliana, which is a 6/8 dance with the dotted eighth, sixteenth, and eighth note rhythm.

Lombard and Siciliano Rhythms

You can see that rhythm in measures three and five. Now, neither of these rhythmic devices are associated solely with the Hungarian or Gypsy idioms, however, they set the mood that this is a composition that departs from the typical Common Practice composition. The exoticism or “otherness” of the Andante is most persuasively conveyed by its insistence on rhythmic and dissonant stresses off the beat. Notice in the opening that Weber provides accents on the “off beats” of the Lombard rhythms. These rhythms are found in measures two and four and later in the composition. Furthermore the placement of dissonance often avoids strong metrical positions.

Let’s examine this more closely by studying the analysis by Dr. Melissa Kritzer on page 76 of her dissertation.

Kritzer Analysis and Ewell Annotations

 My markings are in red in Example 5. In some instances Weber’s dissonances in the melody conform to traditional practice and in several others the dissonances are expressions of exoticism: evoking the Hungarian aspect of the composition. I have circled all of the dissonant notes, that is, the notes that do not match the harmonies given in the accompaniment. In measures 3, 5, and 7 the passing notes of the Siciliana rhythm are not unusual. The large leap in measure 7 is an octave displacement. The unusual features of this melody, however, start in measure 4. Not only does Weber stress with accents weak potions of the beat but he also places dissonances on those notes. Further stressed off-beat dissonances are found in the anticipations at the end of measure 9 and the middle of measure 14.


 Measure 12 provides a temporary reprieve and I give stresses on the beat here. There is a real appoggiatura on the downbeat and then I play the next beat with the same stresses and slurred articulation. Aside from the traditional use of dissonance in the Siciana rhythm and measure 12, it is important to convey the usual placements of these dissonances to the listener.  

The Db4 in measure 15 (Example 5) is given over the chord of a Neapolitan Sixth. Technically this Db is a consonance with the Neapolitan Sixth. However, the note is so unusual and striking at that point in harmony that I have circled note again showing its emphasis on the offbeat. Although my analysis differs from Dr. Kritzer’s this in no way diminishes the fine research she has done. I concur with her observations that many of the dissonances are strategically placed off the beat in this theme to enhance the exotic and unexpected nature of this melody.


Weber presents hypermeter in this melody. Hypermeter is a combination of measures into a larger unit. The blue brackets indicate that two 6/8 measures are combined; the first measure with the Lombard and the second with Siciliana rhythms. Performing the melody (measures 1-13) with 12/8 measures instead of two 6/8 measures will enhance the expression. Thus, each two measures features a slight crescendo and decrescrendo with the climax occurring on the downbeat of the second measure. The pickup to measure 14 breaks with the previous pattern and is presented as a four measure phrase. I add the slurs in the figure to enhance the expression of the melody and also to provide more emphasis to the accents. Tonguing, rather than slurring into the accent, gives the note more emphasis. I tongue the downbeats in measures 7 and 9 to increase my accuracy on those notes. In measure 12 I slur from the appoggiatura downbeat and repeat the same gesture in the next beat from D4 to C4.

The Andante movement is in variation form, with four presentations of the theme. In presentations 2 and 4, starting at measures 22 and 60, the bassoon is an accompanist and will need to fit the rapid notes to the melody given in the strings. Remember to follow the hypermeter expression of the melody that I have note previously.  

The low register articulation can be tricky in this movement.

Low Register Articulation

It is even more of a problem in the Weber concerto.

Weber Concerto, First Movement

The key to both is to use the same air stream and embouchure for the articulated notes as one would use for slurring the same notes. For example, in measure 28 let’s first practice this section slurred. Pay close attention to your embouchure and air stream. Don’t bounce the embouchure around, rather keep it stable as if you were slurring. For instance, for the low C pretend that you are playing  low A. This will keep the pitch down and also help you with your air stream. Now just lightly brush the tongue on the reed add light tonguing in order to articulate this. It will sound short enough with the light tonguing on the reed and aiming for those lower pitches will help keep the pitch down

I provide musical contrast in measures 39-55 much as I did in the pickup in measure 9 continuing on to measure 13. Longer and more lyrical notes are called for here. Notice that Weber did not include as many accents, and in measure 50 the accents are more like expressive appoggiaturas rather than unexpected exotic notes. Here is a portion of that passage. The third video will explore features of the Rondo. This movement provides an energetic conclusion to the composition. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Terry B. Ewell. All rights reserved.