Sylvius Leopold Weiss

Last updated
Sylvius Leopold Weiss. Silvius Leopold Weiss.jpg
Sylvius Leopold Weiss.

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (12 October 1687 16 October 1750) was a German composer and lutenist.


Born in Grottkau near Breslau, the son of Johann Jacob Weiss, also a lutenist, he served at courts in Breslau, Rome, and Dresden, where he died. Until recently, he was thought to have been born in 1686, but recent evidence suggests that he was in fact born the following year. [1]

Weiss was one of the most important and most prolific composers of lute music in history and one of the best-known and most technically accomplished lutenists of his day. He was a teacher to Philip Hyacinth, 4th Prince Lobkowicz, and the prince's second wife Anna Wilhelmina Althan.

In later life, Weiss became a friend of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and met J.S. Bach through him. Bach and Weiss were said to have competed in improvisation, as the following account by Johann Friedrich Reichardt describes:

"Anyone who knows how difficult it is to play harmonic modulations and good counterpoint on the lute will be surprised and full of disbelief to hear from eyewitnesses that Weiss, the great lutenist, challenged J.S. Bach, the great harpsichordist and organist, at playing fantasies and fugues."

Sylvius Weiss's son Johann Adolph Faustinus Weiss succeeded him as a Saxon court lutenist.


Weiss probably wrote more than 1000 pieces for lute, [2] from which about 850 attributed pieces survived, most of them grouped into 'sonatas' (not to be confused with the later classical sonata, based on sonata form) or suites, which consist mostly of baroque dance pieces. Weiss also wrote chamber pieces and concertos, but only the solo parts have survived for most of them.

Related Research Articles

Lute Plucked string musical instrument

A lute is any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. It may be either fretted or unfretted.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach German composer (1714–1788)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, also formerly spelled Karl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, and commonly abbreviated C. P. E. Bach, was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. His second name was in honor of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, a friend of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Ernst Gottlieb Baron

Ernst Gottlieb Baron or Ernst Theofil Baron, was a German lutenist, composer and writer on music.

Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Bach)

The sonatas and partitas for solo violin are a set of six works composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are sometimes referred to in English as the sonatas and partias for solo violin in accordance with Bach's headings in the autograph manuscript: "Partia" was commonly used in German-speaking regions during Bach's time, whereas the Italian "partita" was introduced to this set in the 1879 Bach Gesellschaft edition, having become standard by that time. The set consists of three sonatas da chiesa in four movements and three partitas in dance-form movements. The 2nd Partita is widely known for its Chaconne, considered one of the most masterly and expressive works ever written for solo violin.

Jan Antonín Losy, Count of Losinthal ; also known as Comte d'Logy, was a Bohemian aristocrat, Baroque lute player and composer from Prague. His lute works combine the French style brisé with a more Italian cantabile style. He was probably the most significant lutenist-composer in Bohemia at the height of the lute's popularity there.

Robert Barto

Robert Barto is an American lutenist specializing in the music of the Baroque and Empfindsamkeit periods, in particular the oeuvres of Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Bernhard Joachim Hagen.

Bernhard Joachim Hagen was a German composer, lutenist and violinist. He was the last important composer of lute music in 18th-century Germany.

Adam Falckenhagen

Adam Falckenhagen was a German lutenist and composer of the Baroque period.

Terrell Stone is an American lutenist and recording artist. He is a longtime resident of Italy, where he holds the position of a Professor of lute.

Timofiy Bilohradsky was a lutenist, composer and kobzar-bandurist of Ukrainian ethnicity, active in St. Petersburg and Königsberg.

Konrad Junghänel is a German lutenist and conductor in the field of historically informed performance, the founder and director of the vocal ensemble Cantus Cölln.

John H. Schneiderman is an American lutenist and guitarist born in Ithaca, New York, where his father was a member of the faculty of Cornell University. Schneiderman was introduced to music by his mother, who taught him to play the ukulele when he was six years old. He began performing at the age of nine, playing the banjo and fiddle at bluegrass festivals in California. Schneiderman received his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine, studying guitar under Frederick Noad. He continued his studies at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland with lutenist Eugen Müller-Dombois.

Yasunori Imamura is a Japanese lutenist. Imamura has appeared on more than 150 CDs, both as a soloist and as a member of ensembles. His solo recordings include the complete lute works by Johann Sebastian Bach, three volumes of lute sonatas by Silvius Leopold Weiss, pièces pour théorbe by Robert de Visée, Spanish music for vihuela from the time of Charles V (Querstand) and the complete lute fantasies by Simone Molinario.

Jakob Lindberg is a Swedish lutenist, performing solo, in small and large ensembles, and also directing operas, using instruments of the lute and guitar families. He is known for the first ever recording of the Complete Solo Lute Music of John Dowland as well as for recording music never before recorded, with repertoire dating back to the Renaissance period.

Richard Stone (lutenist)

Richard Stone is an American lutenist, music director, educator and music editor. He performs on lute and theorbo as a soloist and accompanist; he and Gwyn Roberts co-founded and co-direct Tempesta di Mare, The Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra; his musical editions are published by AR Editions and Prima la Musica; and he lectures and teaches lute, theorbo, continuo and performance practice for singers and instrumentalists at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University.

Johann Kropfgans was a German lutenist and composer.

Christopher Wilke is an American composer, lutenist, guitarist, recording artist, and teacher.

Eugen Müller-Dombois was a German lutenist and music teacher. He was a pioneer in the revival of the lute and early music revival.


  1. Frank Legl, Zwischen Grottkau und Neuburg – Neues zur Biographie von Silvius Leopold Weiss. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Lautengesellschaft IV, 2000, S. 1–40
  2. Breitkopf catalogue of 1769 includes incipits of 66 partitas by S.L.Weiss, from which 34 are lost, which consisted of about 200 pieces total - Michel Cardin - The London Manuscript unveiled: General context, pp. 4,6