February 23, 2013    7:30 PM
Morrison HS Auditorium
Morrison, Illinois

Ludwig van Beethoven

Fidelio Overture, Op 72c

Alec Wilder
Suite No 1 'Effie'
Effie Goes Folk Dancing
Effie Sings a Lullaby
Effie Joins the Carnival

Taylor Hicks, tuba

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Petite Suite, Op 77
La Caprice de Nanette
Demande et Reponse
Un Sonnet d'Amour
La Tarantelle Fretillante


Øystein Baadsvik
Fnugg Blue
Benjamin Rogers, tuba

Georges Bizet
Symphony in C major
Allegre vivo
Allegro vivace; Trio
Allegro vivace


Winter Concert 2013

Of all my children, this is the one that cost me the worst birth pangs, the one that brought me the most sorrow; and, for that reason, it is the dearest to me.

Ludwig van BeethovenLudwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was speaking here of his opera Fidelio; his only opera was indeed a labor of love, requiring patience, perseverance and fortitude in finally bringing it to the stage as a vocal and symphonic masterwork. He wrote and revised the score for over a decade before arriving at a satisfactory production in 1814. In this endeavor he had the advice of a number of intimates as well as the talents of several librettists.

The libretto is based on the work Leonor of French playwright and librettist Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, translated into German by Joseph Sonnleithner. Before Beethoven took up the challenge, the treatment of the work as an opera text had already had three recent attempts, by French composer Pierre Gaveaux (1798), German Simon Mayr (1805), and Italian Fernando Päer (1805). Yet, Leonor was a drama that appealed to Beethoven's sensibilities at the time, advocating as he did liberty, justice and the triumph of good over evil. It is a 'rescue' drama, set in a Spanish state prison, and relates how Leonore, disguised as male prison guard Fidelio, comes to the aid of her husband Florestan, who, as a political prisoner, is slowly being starved to death. Beethoven had originally named his opera Leonore, but to avoid confusion with Päer's work, he later decided on the alternative Fidelio.

Leonore premiered on November 11, 1805, at the Theater an der Wien; the second version, revised from three acts to two acts, opened the following March in the same venue; and, the third revised version had its first performance on May 23, 1814, at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna.

For each of the versions of Fidelio, Beethoven provided a new or revised overture, plus one that was written for a proposed 1808 production in Prague that never materialized. The first three overtures are collectively known as the Leonore Overtures, designated I, II, and III. Leonore Overture I is believed to be the one Beethoven composed for the aborted Prague performances; Leonore II is the one used for the premiere in 1805; and, Leonore III is the revised version for the 1806 re-staging of the opera. Leonore III was withdrawn after its initial performance because Beethoven and his advisers rightly deemed that it was so intense and dramatic that it overwhelmed the first act. Indeed, each of the Leonores might well be considered a symphonic synthesis of the opera in that each uses themes and motifs from the opera as its material. Later, conductor and composer Gustav Mahler thought so highly of the Leonore Overture III that he inserted it between the two scenes of Act II, where it served a more logical purpose.

Beethoven broke the pattern when he composed the Fidelio Overture, Op 72c; he began with a new work, with fresh material that is totally independent of the opera it introduces. This overture is lighter in mood and tone than its Leonore predecessors and serves its purpose well. Most opera productions abide by Beethoven's wishes and use this overture as he intended.

Program Notes © William H Driver and Clinton Symphony Orchestra Association

Alec Wilder - Suite No 1 for Tuba

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - Petite Suite, Op 77

Øystein Baadsvik - Fnugg Blue

Georges Bizet - Symphony in C major