Most of you know that an overture is music that precedes a play or opera or ballet. In the Romantic era of music [which followed the Baroque and Classical eras] concert overtures were developed. These were overtures that were stand alone pieces that were to be played by symphonies in a concert program. No opera would follow.
The concert overtures usually will be the first piece played in a concert program by a symphony orchestra. So, while there is no opera that will follow these overtures, the rest of the concert program would follow. Thus, the name, concert overture.
An example of a concert overture is “The Hebrides”, also known as Fingal’s Cave. This beautiful melodic piece was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830. The piece was inspired by a cavern known as Fingal’s Cave, an island in the Hebrides archipelago located off the west coast of Scotland.
As it is called an overture with a specific name, this piece is also what is called a program piece. Most music in all eras of the classical repertoire were not program pieces, but just music for music’s sake [for the beauty of the sound] with no specific meaning of the music involved. Program pieces were developed to tell a story or a certain mood.
The Hebrides Overture [Fingal’s cave] while it does not tell a story, it does depict certain moods for the listener. This overture gives the feeling of being in a ship at sea and also depicting the beauty of Fingal’s cave. The whole piece emotes the feeling of a sometimes rocky, but for the most part, peaceful solitude.
This is a beautiful overture, a wonderful concert piece that would be welcome to start any symphony concert. Felix Mendelssohn is one of my favorite composers because of his abundance of melodic music. What beautiful melodies and an awesome sound you hear from almost all of Mendelssohn’s pieces.
So, please turn up the volume and enjoy this concert overture by the brilliant Felix Mendelssohn. If you have never heard this piece before, I believe you will see why Felix Mendelssohn is one of my favorite composers.
Note: I’m proud to say that in this video on You Tube, the Houston Symphony Orchestra’s very own director, Andres Orozco-Estrada, is leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture “Fingal’s Cave”: