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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Overture, "Iphigenia in Aulis" - Gluck


Overture, "Iphigenia in Aulis"

Christoph Willibald von Gluck
(1714-87)



The overtures to Gluck’s operas, though but two of them retain a place in the modern concert repertory, possess unusual interest because they are the preludes to the dramatic works in which Gluck introduced certain reforms which may be summed up in his own words: "My idea was that the relation of music to poetry was much the same as that of harmonious coloring and well depicted light and shade to an accurate drawing, which animates the figures without altering their outlines." As originally written, the overture had no ending, but led without interruption into the opening scene of the opera. Mozart is supposed to have written a closing section to adapt it for concert use, and Wagner made sundry revisions and also wrote a Coda to take the place of the Mozart ending. The overture begins with a slow movement, followed by an Allegro, the old method of writing overtures. The slow movement is in strict style and is divided between the strings and wind instruments. The first subject of the Allegro appears several times, followed by Episodes, each worked up in strict time and frequently repeated. Wagner sums up the contents of the overture in four subjects, the first occurring in the slow movement as an invocation for deliverance from affliction. The other three he finds in the Allegro. The second represents assertion of overbearing authority; the third, expression of womanly tenderness; and the fourth, deep sympathy. This interpretation gives the general character of the various sections of the overture.





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