Franz von Suppé: Light Cavalry Overture

Context

Franz von Suppé’s 1866 operetta Leichte Kavallerie has remained seldom performed since its premiere in Vienna in 1866. However, the overture to the operetta has remained Suppé’s most popular and most performed work. Often heard in concert halls, as well as in film and TV, the music in the overture takes you on a truly exciting journey through 1800s Europe. 

 

The Music

The overture opens with a brass sequence that sees Suppé’s layering and timbral writing come to the forefront. Different sections play the bold fanfare before the sections unite. As the woodwind and strings begin to enter and add to the drama of the introduction, the music moves into the development section. Now led by the strings, the fast and vibrant theme drives the music towards the loud and intense tutti sections. 

As the dynamic drops, a solo clarinet emerges. The new theme played here is then copied by the strings, who play a much heavier version later on. This stately section very much opposes the bold and loud previous sections, and it offers some respite. The trumpets then enter without warning with the famous theme of the overture. Now with the rest of the ensemble, the orchestra races towards the end of the overture by playing the exciting march theme in glorious unison. The bold brass opening returns which leads to the final climax of this thrilling overture. 

 

Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture

 

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