Search form

Classical Breakdown

28. What is an Overture?

October 6, 2020

Is an Overture defined by the kind of music it contains or simply where it appears in a concert? The answer can change throughout history, and with musical examples, John and Nicole get into the details of this "bite-size music."

Show Notes

The Toccata from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo 

This is one of the earliest operas and an early idea of the overture. It also serves as a great way to enter a room!

Fingal's Cave in Scotland (the inspiration for Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture)

Fingals Cave in Scotland

An overture for orchestra that includes vacuum cleaners, rifles, and a floor polisher...

An overture in the modern entertainment era?

Would Christoph Willibald Gluck consider this an overture? It shows us the time and place, the lyrics give an idea of the wholesome content to follow, and it introduces us to the characters (although not in themes).