1812 Overture

Tchaikovsky’s score is an account of events that transpired during Napoleon’s invasion and the Battle of Borodino in 1812, which Russia lost to the French emperor. Tchaikovsky employs a combination of pastoral and martial themes, with the French National Anthem being heard more prominently as French forces approach and it seems the French are invincible … Read more

Rossini: Barber of Seville Overture

My sister is going to see The Barber of Seville this summer and I said she must research the story and background of the opera before going as it makes it so much more enjoyable. It is therefore ironic that only 4 weeks before I play the overture with the BHSO tonight, I am doing … Read more

Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte Overture

Cosi fan tutte (1790) is the third in the great trilogy of operas composed by Mozart with Lorenzo da Ponte as his librettist. The other two are The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787). All three are comedies (opera buffa) with Cosi being the most light-hearted. The title, which is almost impossible to … Read more

Wagner – Overture to Die Meistersinger

Wagner’s talents spanned composing, theatre directing and conducting but he is primarily known today for the thirteen magnificent operas he completed. The overture to the only comedy among these was first performed in Leipzig in November 1862 but it was not until June 1868 that the complete opera was ready for its first public performance. … Read more

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture

Tchaikovsky wrote this piece in October and November 1869, when aged 28 and a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. It is formally a symphonic poem in sonata form (exposition; development; recapitulation). Tchaikovsky was deeply inspired by Shakespeare’s plays but it was Mily Balakirev, one of “The Five” Russian composers (the others being Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov … Read more

Mozart: Marriage of Figaro Overture

Pure genius! The Marriage of Figaro Overture was written by Mozart just hours before the opera’s first performance in Vienna on 1st May 1786, and yet it is an obvious masterpiece of composition that remains as popular today as it was then. Frantic in style, the overture most unusually does not quote any themes from … Read more

Brahms: Academic Festival Overture

Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833. Under the influence of his musical father, he became a proficient pianist and helped with the family income by playing in various bars and restaurants. He also started composing from an early age, eventually making his living as a conductor and teacher in Vienna. He composed many … Read more

Verdi: Forza del Destino

Guiseppe Verdi was born in Leroncole in Italy on October 9th, 1813 and died in Milan, Italy on January 27th, 1901. He completed La Forza del Destino in 1861. The Overture runs for approximately 8 minutes and is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, … Read more

Sullivan: Pirates of Penzance – Overture

The association of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert is well known, as is the D’Oyly Carte Company that successfully produced a whole string of comic operas in the period 1870-1900.  One of the earliest was the Pirates of Penzance, the premiere of which was held in New York in 1879.  It received glowing reports from … Read more