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Franz von Suppé

Franz von Suppé Composer

Poet and Peasant Overture

Performances: 10
Tracks: 10
  • Poet and Peasant Overture
    Year: c.1846
    Genre: Other Orchestral
    Pr. Instrument: Orchestra
Best described as a "comedy with songs," Suppé's Dichter und Bauer (Poet and Peasant) three-act operetta premiered on August 24, 1846, at Vienna's Theater an der Wien, where Suppé had recently taken up the post of Kapellmeister. The book and lyrics are by Gustav Quedenfeldt, Eugen Rer, and K. Elmar. The version one is likely to see today is an arrangement made in 1936 by Franz Werther, the pen-name of Franz Wickenhauser (1872 - 1940). Suppé had not mastered the large-scale construction of scenes and acts that mark his later operettas, but the smaller elements of his style are all in place.

In the Overture to Dichter und Bauer we find a lyricism developed from Suppé's study with Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) and a rhythmic drive clearly learned from his perusal of scores by Gioachino Rossini (1792 - 1868). Like Rossini, Suppé repeats 8- or 16-measure melodic ideas, adding instruments and volume each time to increase intensity.

The introductory segment of Suppé's Overture to Dichter und Bauer begins with a brass chorale that is eventually joined by hesitant strings in their low registers. A solo cello enters, accompanied by arpeggios played on the harp. As this lyrical theme progresses, the accompaniment thickens until a climactic mid-point, after which the texture becomes thin again.

A heavy string trill announces the aggressive middle section of the overture. After a few introductory bars we hear the famous, syncopated string melody that descends in wide leaps before climbing upward. This, in turn, is interrupted by a glittering waltz section that creates a more tranquil mood. The mood is short-lived, however, as the faster material returns, this time with a concentration on the initial phrases of the fast material, not the famous syncopated theme. When the waltz returns it is nearly a note-for-note reprise that again serves to provide drastic contrast. The fast material wins in the end, however, as the syncopated theme arrives with full force and pushes ahead in Rossini-like fashion to a powerful close.

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