Work: Candide: Overture
About This Work
Candide is a comic operetta based on the work by Voltaire. The work was extremely unsuccessful during its Broadway premiere in 1956, and it is primarily only as an overture that the music is remembered at all today. The overture was premiered by the
New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957 with Bernstein conducting and became almost an instantaneous orchestra and concert band staple. The work is extremely quick-paced, with a feverish excitement that begins from the first breath of sound. Each player of the ensemble, whether an orchestra or concert band, is required to perform with the utmost of virtuosity, and the work requires an immensely together ensemble. Many of the meters are in seven beats or of other non-traditional types, and they quickly change. Short, full ensemble statements open the work, and this beginning idea intermittently appears several times throughout the work, almost as a reminder of what has been and that it is still the same work. While there are some melodic ideas, as well as some wonderful harmonic textures, it is clear that the main stylistic character of the music must be its rhythmic use. Strong percussion accents, writing in orchestrational groupings and families such as brasses, and harsh attacks from the ensemble as an entity are apparent throughout. The form of the piece is as scattered as the music itself. Most of the ideas are short and sporadic. When an idea is presented, there is usually little time for it to be developed, but instead the music quickly changes direction to some other idea. Oddly, this lack of development of ideas has not deterred from the music's popularity; with the Overture to Candide still a popular favorite among concert programmers, it is doubtful that this music will die away anytime soon.
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