Beethoven: King Stephen Overture

King Stephen is a commemorative work composed in 1811. It includes an overture in E flat major and nine vocal numbers. Only the overture is still played today but it is among the least played orchestral works of the composer. The title refers to King Stephen I, founder of the kingdom of Hungary in the … 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

Grieg: Overture “In Autumn”

Im Herbst (In Autumn), is a concert overture written by Edvard Grieg in 1865. Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway in June 1843 and died in September 1907. His mother was his first piano teacher and taught him to play from the age of 6. In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the eminent … Read more

Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel Overture

The original Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) was a German composer best known for his fairytale opera, Hänsel and Gretel, which he wrote in the early 1890s. Humperdinck was strongly attracted to music from earliest childhood. He eventually succeeded in studying music, despite strong opposition from his father who had wanted his son to be an architect. … Read more

Wagner: Die Meistersinger Overture

Richard Wagner was a German composer of opera. As well as writing The Mastersingers his other great operas include Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde and Parsifal. He also wrote the opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung. Wagner not only wrote the music to his operas, but also the libretti, and he supervised all aspects … Read more

Haydn: Representation of Chaos

“Chaos” is the overture to Haydn’s oratorio, the Creation, one of his undoubted masterpieces. The English libretto, by an anonymous author, was given to him during his second London tour, possibly after Handel had turned it down. The work took eighteen months to complete, and was first performed to an invitation-only audience in Vienna in … Read more

Rossini: The Italian Girl in Algiers

Rossini was born in 1792 in Pesaro, Italy and died in France in 1868. Amongst other works he was a prolific writer of operas, both tragic and comic. He wrote thirty-nine in less than twenty years, becoming one of the most successful and popular operatic composers of his time. The Italian Girl in Algiers (L’Italiana … Read more

Mozart: Marriage of Figaro Overture

Figaro was first performed in 1786, based on a play by da Ponte who was the leading librettist at that time. The play had everything to commend it, not least the thrill of being banned because of its subversive nature. Figaro teems with plots and intrigues. The play is reminiscent of a French farce, with … Read more