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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Dramatic Overture, Patrie (Bizet)


Dramatic Overture, "Patrie". Op. 19

Georges Bizet
(1838-75)



The Dramatic Overture, "Patrie," dedicated to Massenet, was written as a prelude to Sardou's drama of the same name, produced in 1872. As its name suggests, it is an appeal to the martial spirit of the country.

The overture opens with a dashing military theme, fortissimo, in full orchestra. After a brief development it reappears pianissimo, also in full orchestra. After some subsidiary passages the trombones give out a martial call, answered by explosive concussions of the drum against violin tremolos, after which the theme returns fortissimo, again subsiding to pianissimo modulations, preparing the way for the entrance of the second theme in the violins, clarinet, and bassoon, accompanied by the double basses, the new theme being in the nature of a folk song. After a brief development, followed by a stirring passage in the brass section, the second theme returns fortissimo in full orchestra, leading to a powerful climax. A pause ensues, after which the third theme enters in the violas and 'cellos with accompaniment of the brasses and double basses. The new theme is elaborately developed and is followed by a fourth in the violas, clarinet, and English horn with the arpeggio accompaniment by the muted violins, leading to a return of the martial first theme, pianissimo, developed to a powerful climax. The subsidiary passage after the first theme, and the second and fourth themes, return in regular order, each of them greatly enriched, and close the overture with an impressive burst of harmony.





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