Franz Schubert: Overture in D Major 

“In the Italian Style”


Composed in 1817, Franz Schubert’s Overture in D major (D.590) is one of seven orchestral overtures in this key. Composed of several tunes, and laden with Schubertian harmonic changes, this overture, in it’s directed “Italian Style” is a Schubert classic.


The Music

Opening with big orchestral chords, the dark opening is led by the lower strings. Schubert’s rich orchestral textures are followed by a light and lilting theme in the upper strings. The brass and woodwind completely drop out at this point, with the overture turning into a piece for strings for some time. 

Soft horn calls signal the return of the full orchestra, with other voices from the woodwind also rearing their heads through the texture. The rich tonality of D major aids with the big explosions of sound heard from across the orchestra, as the colourful overlay of harmony beams from within the orchestra. A number of soloists are heard throughout the overture, with the oboe making a particular impact during the central section of the overture just as the pace changes.

A complete contrast to the opening four minutes, the bright and breezy central section is quick, light and intricate. Schubert writes a number of themes that all play at once, which allows your ears to have quite the field day! The woodwind take a melodic lead through this fast section, with each instrument showing off their unique voice. Schubert reintroduces the brass to the mix, with big chords overthrowing everything else. As the final climax is reached, the final few heroic bars play out this exciting overture.



Ⓒ Alex Burns 

Happy Reading!

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