Violinist Marek Weber under the heading "Desuete Names"
Marek Weber (October 25, 1888; Lemberg, Austria-Hungary— February 9, 1964, Chicago) was the eminent violinist, conductor and bandleader. He can be considered an Austrian, a Ukrainian, a German and an American musician in equal measure. Marek Weber was born in a Jewish family, in the territory of contemporary Ukraine, in the city of Lviv (Lemberg), then part of Austria-Hungary.
From the early age, the boy was fond of music, learned to play the violin, and at the age of 12 was already performing on the stage of a variety show, whose director offered him a touring contract for a year.
In 1906, he left for Berlin to study at the Julius Stern Conservatory class. Already in 1908, at the age of 20, he founded his own orchestra. In 1914, he became the orchestra leader in the prestigious Hotel Adlon. From the early 1920s, he and his orchestra began making recordings, first for Carl Lindström company (under the Parlophon label) and then for Deutsche Grammophon. It was at this time that his famous habit of conducting an orchestra with his violin emerged. He was initially shy about conducting an orchestra and was about to give it up, but a friend advised him to use his violin as an instrument for conducting. He tried and then went on doing so, touring in Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden, France, England and the USA. This was indeed a very fortunate find, as it became part of Marek Weber branded technique.
In the 1920-30s, the Marek Weber Orchestra was one of the most popular orchestras in Europe and was probably the best-known foreign orchestra in the USSR. Thanks to his recordings, Russian audience listened and liked such masterpieces of dance music as “Rio Rita”, “Gypsy”, “You Stole My Heart”, “Chinese Street Serenade” and “Tonight”.
It is worth mentioning that he himself did not like jazz, but as a head of cup-and-saucer orchestra, he raised no objection to his musicians playing jazz tunes, leaving the hall for a while. Since 1930, Weber occasionally acted in films, but his work mainly remained concerned with Berlin nightlife.
After the National Socialist Workers' Party took over the power, he was forced, like most of his orchestra musicians, to emigrate. Weber shared the fate of many Jews that were excluded from the Imperial Chamber of Music ranks. In 1933, he traveled to England, where he featured in films, and then visited Switzerland and many other European countries. In 1937, Marek emigrated to the USA, where he made a career as "King of Radio Waltzes". The beautiful sound of his violin by the Venetian master Giovanni Batista Guadagnini (1711-1786) and the orchestra under his baton ensured persistently high level of popularity. Most of all Weber was fond of classical music. On the one hand, he tried to promote classical music, making it more "easy listening" and understandable for the audience. On the other hand, he strived to raise the contemporary dance music to the level of the classics by exquisite orchestration and dignified and full, almost symphonic sound of tunes from his orchestra.
After the World War II, Marek Weber retired from his musical activities and took up farming. He died on 9 February 1964 in Chicago.