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The Concert Overtures by Diana Bickley

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The Concert Overtures by Diana Bickley


  • Berlioz’s concert overtures raised questions on the balance between programmatic influences and pure musical coherence
  • First French composer to composer an independent overture with no reference to any opera, ballet, or play. (Waverly)

Grande Ouverture des Francs-Juges

  • Although it was composed as a prelude to the opera Les Francs-Juges, Berlioz regarded it as a concert overture
  • Mediant Relations : [pic 1]
  • After which, it returned to Fminor. The contrasting theme came in at F major and the piece ended with the ‘Olmerik’ theme in Dflat major
  • Treatment of ‘development’ section (Cminor) : More episodic than developmental
  • Treatment of Recap : Does not sound like a recap at all. Different speed, different texture. Unlike the exposition, Fminor went to Tonic major first before going to Dflat major.

Grande Ouverture de Waverley

  • 1st independent concert overture
  • Just like Francs-Juges overture, it begins with a slow introduction and moves into Allegro
  • Long intro : 31 bars
  • Irregular phrasing in Cello’s melody
  • Initially, the piece had included the newly invented trumpets with pistons with 3 valves – shows Berlioz’s fascination with new instruments. Also shows how technology influenced music in the 19th century.

Grande Ouverture du Roi Lear

  • Composed while he was in Italy
  • Inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and a personal event happening at that time : His fiancé betrayed him
  • His anger was poured into the composition of this work
  • Like the previous overtures, it starts slow and then moves to a fast section. From Andante non troppo lento, ma maestoso to Allegro disperato ed agitato assai
  • 1st part : Violas, Cellos and Basses have recitative-like melodies, much like Beeethoven’s 9th symphony
  • Unusual recapitulation: the recitative-like melodies are now treated as transitional and contrapuntal material.

Le Carnaval romain, ouverture caracteristique

  • Unlike the previous overtures, this overture starts with a swift opening passage before going to the slow-fast structure like his other overtures.
  • Canonic and contrapuntal passages

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