Silvius Leopold Weiss
The famous Dresden lutenist
On this site you will find information concerning the life and work of the most famous lutenist of the baroque era, Silvius Leopold Weiss, who was also highly regarded by his contemporaries as a composer.
Silvius or Sylvius?
Regarding the spelling of his Christian name
Weiss’ Christian name can be found
indifferently spelled Silvius or Sylvius.
Michel Cardin wrote :
The only portrait of Silvius Leopold Weiss
(see above) we have is an engraving by
Bartolomeo Folin (Leipzig, 1766) inspired by a painting, now
disappeared, by Balthasar Denner, executed approximately in 1730.
One can read underneath the medallion :
Silvius Leopold Weiss.
Born in Breslau on 12 October 1686. Died in Dresden on 15 October 1750.
Only Sylvius can play the lute.
It may be because of this engraving that the spelling of Silvius’ Christian name change according to the dictionaries (when his name appeared in them !) and other publications, for it appears in the form of Sylvius and not Silvius, which he used to sign his letters. The bottom line is that both spellings are correct. The
was the modern European norm for Sylain, Sylvio, etc. The
would fit in the logic of the Latin suffix
which was an affectation then fashionable among 18th century German
artists. Weiss’ two Christian names thus formulated are similar, only
inverted, to those of Wolfgang Amadeus, for instance. He actually
signed his letters Silvius Leopoldus Weiss and called one of his sons
(he had 7 children) Adolf Faustinus - who incidentally took after his
father as lute player at the court of Dresden.
1 New research of Frank Legl prove some of the dates on the graving of Folin to be false: Year and place of birth (1687 in Grottkau), day of death (16th of Octobre 1750). Cf. Weiss's life