A Festive Overture for Orchestra

Dan Welcher

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Like the Italian sparkling wine for which it is named, this overture is designed for a celebration. It celebrates the opening of the 1998 season of the Boston Pops, which commissioned the work, and it also celebrates my own fiftieth year of life with a nostalgic look backward at a style of composition that was popular in the 40s and 50s.

Beginning with a pop and a burst of bubbles, the overture follows a course familiar to most concert-goers: two main themes, a development, and a restatement of both themes. What?s a bit unusual is that the second theme is the same as the first theme, only inside-out, with a different rhythm and meter. This technique, called inversion, is as old as Bach, and was used extensively by Brahms and other late Romantics. But the style of "Spumante" pays homage to the kind of music that first caught my attention as a child: the neoclassic music of the American 40s and 50s, by composers such as William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, Samuel Barber, and Walter Piston. This music is the true celebration of "Spumante".

The first theme, heard after the introductory fanfare-music, is stated by the solo trumpet in a lively 3/4 meter. It is restated by the orchestra, and then a secondary subject appears in muted trumpets and percussion. The main theme then reappears with the second subject bubbling along beside it. After a brief transition, the second melody is announced in low strings and clarinets, in a changing meter scheme of 3/4 and 2/4. This almost vocal tune sounds as though it should have words...and indeed it might someday.

The development begins with a slow rumination on the second theme, in the solo oboe. It leads dreamily into a brisk fugue, which also turns out to be the development of the first theme. Set in 4/4, the fugue proceeds in a rather formal four-voice setting in a true neoclassic style. As it develops, in woodwinds and strings, brass and percussion interjections occur, until at length the main theme, in its original form, returns triumphantly. The singable second tune then reappears with the fugue subject rollicking alongside it. The overture concludes with a backwards presentation of the introductory material, as the revelers lift their glasses in a final toast.

"Spumante" was commissioned by the Boston Pops and its conductor, Keith Lockhart.

Available on Rental

Scores & Parts

Spumante - Full Score - Study
Spumante - Full Score - Large

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops
Composition Date 1997
Duration 6:30
Orchestration 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
Premiere May 6th, 1998. Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart.

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