Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Concert Overtures Stand on Their Own

Overtures are instrumental compositions mostly used at the beginning of an opera, play, ballet or oratorio to introduce the themes of the music that will be in that opera or ballet etc. Overtures are one of my favorite forms of music as you get to hear a sampling of all the great melodies to follow.  In that way, a classic overture is kind of like the tutti introduction of the orchestra in a typical classical concerto, where the orchestra will introduce the melodies [themes] that the soloist [ex. pianist] will be playing when he enters.

In the Romantic era of music, concert overtures were developed.  Concert overtures are independent orchestral compositions that are used to open a concert program, not an opera or ballet, etc.  While these have the form of an overture, there will be no opera that follows.  These are stand alone musical compositions of usually a short length.

Like traditional overtures, concert overtures have one movement.  These concert overtures are a great way to start a symphony concert program as they usually are not very long in time, but they usually have some great melodies that build toward an exciting climax.  They will get the concert program off to a rousing start, with the longer symphonic pieces and or concerti that will follow.

Here are four of my favorite concert overtures from three of my favorite composers:  Johannes Brahms 'Academic Festival Overture', Felix Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture' [Fingal's Cave] and also his 'Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream', and Antonin Dvorak's 'Carnival Overture'.  These are great melodic pieces that I love and hope you will too.

Note: While Mendelssohn did compose incidental music that incorporates the 'Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream' in it for the opera of the same name, "in 1826, [age 17] near the start of his career, he composed this concert overture" [to a Midsummer Night's Dream].

Johannes Brahms [1833 - 1897]
Antonin Dvorak [1841 - 1904]
Felix Mendelssohn [1809 - 1847]
Remember, these are stand alone pieces for the music value only.   They are not the opening of an opera [check the note re: Mendelssohn's 'Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream'].

Please turn up the volume and enjoy four of the great concert overtures from the Romantic Era of music!

Johannes Brahms: Academic Festival Overture:

Felix Mendelssohn: The Hebrides Overture [Fingal's Cave]:

Felix Mendelssohn: Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream:

Antonin Dvorak: Carnival Overture: 

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