The last of his 39 operas, Guillaume Tell was the result a contract from the French Government to compose for the Opéra and the ThéâtreItalien in Paris as Director, which saw Rossini move to Paris in 1824. He composed Gillaume Tell for the Opéra in 1829.
His longest opera, premiering at a staggering six hours in length, also received his longest overture, that has four distinct sections. Rossini was perhaps reflecting on the origins of the symphony that evolved from the Italian opera overture, with the sections of the overture corresponding to the movements of a symphony.
The opening section paints an image of sunrise in the countryside, until raindrops arrive in the woodwinds, and combined with swirling winds in strings, herald the arrival of the stormy second section. The calm after the storm in the third section hears the Swiss alpine horn melody, ranz des vaches sounded by the flute and english horn. The final section is a lively galop, intended to announce the approaching Swiss army, but is better known today as the theme to the Lone Ranger.
In 1949, Ligeti studied Romanian folk music at the Folklore Institute of Bucharest, and this local music formed the basis for his 1951 composition, Concert Românesc(Romanian Concerto). Early childhood musical experiences resonated with Ligeti, and memories of village band musicians wearing animal masks and dancing whilst playing folk bagpipes and fiddles lay at the heart of the music that we hear tonight.
The modern style that Ligeti applied to this folk music was received poorly, and was considered too modernist. After just one rehearsal, public performance of the Concert was banned, and did not receive its first performance until 1971,and wasn’t recorded until 2001.
The Concert is in four short movements that are played without pause, each with a distinct Romanian folk music character. The work opens with a pastoral introduction, followed in the next ‘movement’ by an energetic dance. Alphorns from the Carpathian mountains sound in the third movement played by the French horns without valves, producing a deliberate difference in tuning to the orchestra. The final movement is announced by trumpet fanfares, and rounds off with a Romanian folk inspired finale, with a violin solo throughout as well as the horns recalling their earlier theme.
This concerto is a staple of any modern trumpeter’s repertoire, and is regarded widely as an equal to Haydn’s E-flat major concerto. Composed in 1950, this concerto was composed for trumpeter Timofei Dokschitzer, who can be thanked for bring it with him when he emigrated from Armenia to the United States, and subsequently bringing these Eastern European harmonies and fine concerto writing from the East to the West.
There are five major sections in this concerto, that are all performed without break and the work sounds as a single movement concerto. Like so many composers from Eastern Europe in the mid-20th century, Arutunian was heavily influenced the music of his native Armenia, however the melodies that occur in this concerto are all unique and original to Arutunian.
Often used as an audition test piece at the world’s top music schools, Arutunian’sTrumpet Concerto is considered flashy and virtuosic, ranging from beautiful, heart-wrenching melodies to rapidly-articulated passages, revealing the full scope of the musicality of performer and composer.
Another composer that had so much to give and left the world too soon, French composer Georges Bizet’s legacy included one of the most famous operas ever written, Carmen. This fame was not apparent at the opera’s premiere, as it wasreceived poorly and considered a failure at its premiere. This can be attributed to the venue at which it was premiered, the Paris Opéra-Comique, which was usually the venue for more light-hearted entertainment. The audience was shocked by the intense subject matter, of a gypsy having several affairs being murdered on stage by one of these jealous lovers. Unfortunately Bizet died just three months after the unsuccessful premiere, and would never see the acclaim that his composition received.
The orchestral suites from Carmen consist of a range of instrumental excerpts from the opera, and also a selection of arias and other vocal selections transcribed for the orchestra. These suites are the perfect way for a full symphony orchestra to be able to perform Bizet’s masterpiece, and fully indulge in the music that is so often reserved for the operatic stage.