Overture (from French ouverture, lit. "opening") in music was originally the instrumental introduction to a ballet, opera, or oratorio in the 17th century.During the early Romantic era, composers such as Beethoven and Mendelssohn composed overtures which were independent, self-existing instrumental, programmatic works that presaged genres such as the symphonic poem. These were "at first undoubtedly intended to be played at the head of a programme".
The idea of an instrumental opening to opera existed during the 17th century. Peri's Euridice opens with a brief instrumental ritornello, and Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (1607) opens with a toccata, in this case a fanfare for muted trumpets. More important, however, was the prologue, which comprised sung dialogue between allegorical characters which introduced the overarching themes of the stories depicted.
As a musical form, however, the French overture first appears in the court ballet and operatic overtures of Jean-Baptiste Lully,which he elaborated from a similar, two-section form called Ouverture, found in the French ballets de cour as early as 1640. This French overture consists of a slow introduction in a marked "dotted rhythm" (i.e., exaggerated iambic, if the first chord is disregarded), followed by a lively movement in fugato style. The overture was frequently followed by a series of dance tunes before the curtain rose, and would often return following the Prologue to introduce the action proper. This ouverture style was also used in English opera, most notably in Henry Purcell's Dido and Æneas . Its distinctive rhythmic profile and function thus led to the French overture style as found in the works of late Baroque composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel, and Georg Philipp Telemann. The style is most often used in preludes to suites, and can be found in non-staged vocal works such as cantatas, for example in the opening chorus of Bach's cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 . Handel also uses the French overture form in some of his Italian operas such as Giulio Cesare .
In Italy, a distinct form called "overture" arose in the 1680s, and became established particularly through the operas of Alessandro Scarlatti, and spread throughout Europe, supplanting the French form as the standard operatic overture by the mid-18th century. [ by whom? ] In this context, they became important in the early history of the symphony.Its stereotypical form is in three generally homophonic movements: fast–slow–fast. The opening movement was normally in duple metre and in a major key; the slow movement in earlier examples was usually quite short, and could be in a contrasting key; the concluding movement was dance-like, most often with rhythms of the gigue or minuet, and returned to the key of the opening section. As the form evolved, the first movement often incorporated fanfare-like elements and took on the pattern of so-called "sonatina form" (sonata form without a development section), and the slow section became more extended and lyrical. Italian overtures were often detached from their operas and played as independent concert pieces.
Prior to the 18th century, the symphony and the overture were almost interchangeable, with overtures being extracted from operas to serve as stand-alone instrumental works, and symphonies were tagged to the front of operas as overtures.With the reform of opera seria, the overture began to distinguish itself from the symphony, and composers began to link the content of overtures to their operas dramatically and emotionally. Elements from the opera are foreshadowed in the overture, following the reform ideology that the music and every other element on stages serves to enhance the plot. One such overture was that of La Magnifique by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry, in which several of the arias are quoted. This "medley form" persists in the overtures to many works of musical theatre written in the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 19th-century opera the overture, Vorspiel, Einleitung, Introduction, or whatever else it may be called, is generally nothing more definite than that portion of the music which takes place before the curtain rises. Richard Wagner's Vorspiel to Lohengrin is a short self-contained movement founded on the music of the Grail.
In Italian opera after about 1800, the "overture" became known as the sinfonia.Fisher also notes the term Sinfonia avanti l'opera (literally, the "symphony before the opera") was "an early term for a sinfonia used to begin an opera, that is, as an overture as opposed to one serving to begin a later section of the work".
Although by the end of the eighteenth century opera overtures were already beginning to be performed as separate items in the concert hall, the "concert overture", intended specifically as an individual concert piece without reference to stage performance and generally based on some literary theme, began to appear early in the Romantic era. Carl Maria von Weber wrote two concert overtures, Der Beherrscher der Geister ('The Ruler of the Spirits', 1811, a revision of the overture to his unfinished opera Rübezahl of 1805), and Jubel-Ouvertüre ('Jubilee Overture', 1818, incorporating God Save the King at its climax). However, the overture A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826) by Felix Mendelssohn is generally regarded as the first concert overture.Mendelssohn's other contributions to this genre include his Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage overture (1828), his overture The Hebrides (1830; also known as Fingal's Cave) and the overtures Die schöne Melusine (The Fair Melusine, 1834) and Ruy Blas (1839). Other notable early concert overtures were written by Hector Berlioz (e.g., Les Francs juges (1826), and Le corsaire (1828)).
In the 1850s the concert overture began to be supplanted by the symphonic poem, a form devised by Franz Liszt in several works that began as dramatic overtures. The distinction between the two genres was the freedom to mould the musical form according to external programmatic requirements.The symphonic poem became the preferred form for the more "progressive" composers, such as César Franck, Camille Saint-Saëns, Richard Strauss, Alexander Scriabin, and Arnold Schoenberg, while more conservative composers like Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Arthur Sullivan remained faithful to the overture.
In the age when the symphonic poem had already become popular, Brahms wrote his Academic Festival Overture , Op. 80, as well as his Tragic Overture , Op. 81. An example clearly influenced by the symphonic poem is Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture . His equally well-known Romeo and Juliet is also labelled a 'fantasy-overture'.
In European music after 1900, an example of an overture displaying a connection with the traditional form is Dmitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture , Op. 96 (1954), which is in two linked sections, "Allegretto" and "Presto" (Temperely 2001). Malcolm Arnold's A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57 (1956), is a 20th-century parody of the late 19th century concert overture, scored for an enormous orchestra with organ, additional brass instruments, and obbligato parts for four rifles, three Hoover vacuum cleaners (two uprights in B♭, one horizontal with detachable sucker in C), and an electric floor polisher in E♭; it is dedicated "to President Hoover" Anon. 1957 mistakenly says just three rifles, but publisher's website confirms four, as stated also in Maycock 2009).
In motion pictures, an overture is a piece of music setting the mood for the film before the opening credits start. For a comprehensive list, see the list of films with overtures.
Some well-known or commonly played overtures:
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, written by composers, most often for orchestra. Although the term has had many meanings from its origins in the ancient Greek era, by the late 18th century the word had taken on the meaning common today: a work usually consisting of multiple distinct sections or movements, often four, with the first movement in sonata form. Symphonies are almost always scored for an orchestra consisting of a string section, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments which altogether number about 30 to 100 musicians. Symphonies are notated in a musical score, which contains all the instrument parts. Orchestral musicians play from parts which contain just the notated music for their own instrument. Some symphonies also contain vocal parts.
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. The German term Tondichtung appears to have been first used by the composer Carl Loewe in 1828. The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt first applied the term Symphonische Dichtung to his 13 works in this vein.
The trio sonata is a genre, typically consisting of several movements, with two melody instruments and continuo. Originating in the early 17th century, the trio sonata was a favorite chamber ensemble combination in the Baroque era.
The French overture is a musical form widely used in the Baroque period. Its basic formal division is into two parts, which are usually enclosed by double bars and repeat signs. They are complementary in style, and the first ends with a half-cadence that requires an answering structure with a tonic ending. The second section often but not always ends with a brief recollection of the first, sometimes even repeating some of its melodic content.
20th-century classical music describes art music that was written nominally from 1901 to 2000, inclusive. Musical style diverged during the 20th century as it never had previously. Consequently, this century was without a dominant style. Modernism, impressionism, and post-romanticism can all be traced to the decades before the turn of the century, but can be included because they evolved beyond the musical boundaries of the 19th-century styles that were part of the earlier common practice period. Neoclassicism and expressionism came mostly after 1900. Minimalism started much later in the century and can be seen as a change from the modern to post-modern era, although some date post-modernism from as early as c. 1930. Aleatory, atonality, serialism, musique concrète, electronic music, and concept music were all developed during this century. Jazz and ethnic folk music became important influences on many composers during this century.
The Locrian mode is either a musical mode or simply a diatonic scale. On the white piano keys, it is the scale that starts with B. Its ascending form consists of the key note, a half step, two whole steps, a further half step, and three more whole steps.
Sinfonia is the Italian word for symphony, from the Latin symphonia, in turn derived from Ancient Greek συμφωνία symphōnia, from the prefix σύν (together) and ϕωνή (sound). In English it most commonly refers to a 17th- or 18th-century orchestral piece used as an introduction, interlude, or postlude to an opera, oratorio, cantata, or suite. The word is also found in other Romance languages such as Spanish or Portuguese.
In music, a serenade is a musical composition or performance delivered in honor of someone or something. Serenades are typically calm, light pieces of music. The term comes from the Italian word serenata, which itself derives from the Latin serenus. Sense influenced by Italian sera "evening," from Latin sera, fem. of serus "late."
A fantasia is a musical composition with roots in improvisation. The fantasia, like the impromptu, seldom follows the textbook rules of any strict musical form.
A capriccio or caprice, is a piece of music, usually fairly free in form and of a lively character. The typical capriccio is one that is fast, intense, and often virtuosic in nature.
Between 1858 and 1902, the Händel-Gesellschaft produced a collected 105-volume edition of the works of George Frideric Handel. Even though the collection was initiated by the society, many of the volumes were published by Friedrich Chrysander working alone. The wording on the title page of the volumes is "Georg Friedrich Händel's Werke. Ausgabe der Deutschen Händelgesellschaft" which translates as "Georg Friedrich Handel's works. Edition of the German Handel Society". Chrysander's work has been criticised, however the scale of his achievement is also praised. The collection's abbreviation of "HG" can be used to identify individual works by Handel; for example Handel's Messiah can be referred to as "HG xlv". For practical use, the HG system has been superseded by the HWV numbering system. The 105 volumes do not contain the complete works of Handel—with at least 250 of his works unpublished in the collection.
The symphonic poems of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt are a series of 13 orchestral works, numbered S.95–107. The first 12 were composed between 1848 and 1858 ; the last, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, followed in 1882. These works helped establish the genre of orchestral program music—compositions written to illustrate an extra-musical plan derived from a play, poem, painting or work of nature. They inspired the symphonic poems of Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Richard Strauss and others.
A choral symphony is a musical composition for orchestra, choir, and sometimes solo vocalists that, in its internal workings and overall musical architecture, adheres broadly to symphonic musical form. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz when he described his Roméo et Juliette as such in his five-paragraph introduction to that work. The direct antecedent for the choral symphony is Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Beethoven's Ninth incorporates part of the Ode an die Freude, a poem by Friedrich Schiller, with text sung by soloists and chorus in the last movement. It is the first example of a major composer's use of the human voice on the same level as instruments in a symphony.
John Walsh was an English music publisher of Irish descent, established off the Strand, London, by c. 1690. He was appointed musical instrument-maker-in-ordinary to the king in 1692.
Baroque music is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era, with the galant style marking the transition between Baroque and Classical eras. The Baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. Overlapping in time, they are conventionally dated from 1580 to 1650, from 1630 to 1700, and from 1680 to 1750. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. The term "baroque" comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl". Key composers of the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, François Couperin, Giuseppe Tartini, Heinrich Schütz, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dieterich Buxtehude, and others.
Quintuple meter or quintuple time is a musical meter characterized by five beats in a measure.
Ouvertüre zum „Fliegenden Holländer“, wie sie eine schlechte Kurkapelle morgens um 7 am Brunnen vom Blatt spielt is a musical parody for string quartet by Paul Hindemith, based on the overture to The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner. The piece dates to c. 1925 and in performance lasts approximately eight minutes.
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