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Overture, part 5

A Minute with Miles

An important development of the 19th century, the romantic period in music, was the form known as the concert overture. A precursor of the form that Franz Liszt would call the symphonic poem, the concert overture doesn't introduce anything. It's an independent, one-movement, orchestral work, usually inspired by a literary, artistic, or historical idea, or by a scene from nature. Famous concert overtures include the Hebrides Overture of Felix Mendelssohn, the Academic Festival Overture of Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Concert overtures are by no means the only overtures that stand on their own, however. Many opera overtures have led long, independent lives in the concert hall and many have far out lived the operas to which they were originally attached. Think of Rossini’s William Tell. The opera itself is hardly ever performed now, but the overture is immortal.

This has been A Minute with Miles - a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the JM Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.