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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Overture to "Manfred". Op. 115 - Schumann


Overture to "Manfred". Op. 115

Robert Schumann
(1810-56)



The overture to "Manfred . was written in 1848, in the same year as the composer's opera "Genoveva," and was first performed in 1852 at Leipzig. It is based upon Byron's drama of the same name, the entire music consisting of entr'actes and incidental numbers, sixteen in all. As compared with his other concert overtures it is supreme in its excellence. The overture opens with a single bar of three agitated chords, leading, after a pause, to an introduction, the oboe announcing a wild, passionate theme, continued in the violins and leading to the main section of the overture, which is reached in a powerful climax, following which the principal theme, marked "in passionate tempo," is given out. After its energetic development another theme appears, a plaintive melody, which may stand for Astarte. This is followed by two episodes, the one very vehement and the other more tranquil. The first subject reappears, marked "with more force," and is followed by a new subject in strings and bassoons. The new theme is developed with great energy and is followed by a reprise of the original subject newly developed and very impressive in character. A short Coda embodies the principal idea of the introduction, and the overture comes to a close with a passage suggesting the death of Manfred.





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