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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Overture to Zauberharpe (Rosamunde) - Op. 26 - Schubert


Overture to Zauberharpe (Rosamunde).
Op. 26.

Franz Schubert
(1797-1828)



Little remains of the many operas and operetta Schubert composed, except the so-called overture to "Rosamunde," and even this is involved in much confusion, as Schubert never wrote an overture to that drama. The story of the overture is interesting. In 1819 a melodrama called "Die Zauberharpe" ("The Magic Harp") was written by Hofmann for the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. The managers applied to Schubert for the incidental music. He wrote it in a fortnight, and the melodrama, when produced, proved a failure. The overture was greatly praised, especially the Adagio introduction, and it was subsequently used as a prelude to his operatta, "Die Verschwornen." When the overture was published, it was called the overture to "Rosamunde," and the mistake has continued to the present time. The overture which had been previously composed for "Alfonso and Estrella" was adopted by Schubert for "Rosamunde." "Alfonso and Estrella" was written in 1823, but it was not performed until 1854. It was based upon a Spanish subject, and, though brought out by Liszt, and subsequently remodeled and revised both in book and score, it was unsuccessful. The overture to "Rosamunde," therefore, is the overture to "Die Zauberharpe."

It opens Andante with a few stately chords of introduction, followed by a beautifully melodious theme for oboe and clarinet, the cadence echoed by the strings, the strings in turn taking the theme with responses by oboe and bassoon. An Allegro vivace follows with the theme in the first violins, accompanied only by the other strings. After the repetition of this theme, tutti, the second theme, one of the most beautiful of the great master's melodies, is announced. It is repeated in flute and oboe, and in its close a new rhythm is introduced and carried through a long episode which introduces still another melody. All this thematic material reappears in the development, and the overture closes with a spirited Coda.





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