Festive Overture (arr Martin)
This work bears the designation Opus 96.
Year: 1954 / 2016?
Duration: c. 6:20
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown
(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)
None discovered thus far.
The Festive Overture was composed in 1954, in the period between Symphony No. 10 and the Violin Concerto. Its American premiere was given by Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony Orchestra on November 16, 1955. In 1956, the New York Philharmonic under Dmitri Mitropoulos presented the overture in Carnegie Hall.
A Russian band version of the overture was released in 1958 and utilized the standard instrumentation of the Russian military band, i.e., a complete orchestral wind, brass and percussion section plus a full family of saxhorns, ranging from the Bb soprano down through the Bb contrabass saxhorn. This new edition has been scored for the instrumentation of the American symphonic band.
The Festive Overture is an excellent curtain raiser and contains one of Shostakovich's greatest attributes -- the ability write a long sustained melodic line combined with a pulsating rhythmic drive. In addition to the flowing melodic passages, there are also examples of staccato rhythmic sections which set off the flowing line and the variant fanfares. It is truly a "festive overture."
- Note from the score, by Donald Hunsberger
One of the most effective concert openers in the repertoire, Festive Overture is an audience-pleasing piece for fine high school and university ensembles. The technical woodwind lines, extended melodies, and exposed brass fanfares will provide a variety of challenges for most any ensemble. It should be noted that the fourth trumpets [and euphoniums] are assigned a formidable part, doubling an upper woodwind melody that requires technique, facility and range. Thorough preparation is required, but Festive Overture is an exhilarating piece that will engage the audience.
- Program Note from Great Music for Wind Band
The gestation of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture has been subject to several different theories. One author claims that it was originally written in 1947, but was suppressed by Shostakovich along with many of his compositions created during this repressive period of Soviet history. Others believe that the celebratory quality of the overture displays Shostakovich’s relief at the death of Josef Stalin (in 1953), whose regime had twice censored the composer and his music. Most probably, the work was commissioned for a gathering at the Bolshoi Theater in November of 1954, celebrating the 37th Anniversary of the October Revolution. The conductor, Vasili Nebolsin, realized that he had no appropriate piece to open the high-profile concert. He approached Shostakovich, who was at the time a musical consultant at the Bolshoi. The composer set to work, and the overture was completed in three days, the individual pages of the score being taken by courier before the ink had dried to copyists waiting at the theater to create the orchestra parts. Although written in haste, the overture has proved to be one of Shostakovich’s most frequently performed works.
- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble concert program, 19 November 2015
In November 1954, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre sent an urgent appeal to Dmitri Shostakovich. A concert marking the anniversary of the Russian Revolution was days away, and the theater needed a celebratory piece to open it. Could he create one quickly? Almost overnight, Shostakovich tossed off his Festive Overture, perhaps the most exuberant work he ever composed.
The rousing piece tested Shostakovich again in 1962. After seeing Igor Stravinsky conduct, Shostakovich told his elder colleague that the podium tempted him, but “I don’t know how to not be afraid.” Nevertheless, when Shostakovich received an offer to conduct his overture and Cello Concerto a few months later, he agreed. Before the first rehearsal, his nerves were so frayed that he persuaded cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the concert’s soloist, to help him polish off a half-liter of vodka. Even though the concert went over well, Shostakovich never conducted again.
- Program Note from University of Houston Moores School Wind Ensemble concert program, 11 February 2016
The story behind the composition of Festive Overture is one that affirms Dmitri Shostakovich’s genius as a composer. Shostakovich received the commission for this work only days before a much-anticipated concert celebrating the 37th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. The conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre was in a panic, needing a work to open the performance. He approached Shostakovich (who was, at the time, a musical consultant at the theatre) hoping the composer might be able to help. Shostakovich agreed to write the piece, and the conductor organized couriers to take the individual sheets of manuscript (still wet with ink) to the theatre where copyists prepared the orchestral parts.
Shostakovich had his friend Lev Lebedinsky sit down next to him to keep him company as he began to compose. Lebedinsky relates:
“The speed with which he wrote was truly astounding. Moreover, when he wrote light music he was able to talk, make jokes, and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart. He laughed and chuckled, and in the meanwhile work was under way and the music was being written down.”
Although Shostakovich composed Festive Overture in just under a day, there is no evidence of carelessness in this lively work. It is unclear whether or not he utilized pre-existing musical ideas, or whether the work was a product of sudden inspiration. Nonetheless, the result, as Lebedinsky recalls, is “this brilliant effervescent work, with its vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne.”
- Program Note from Monarch Brass concert program, 15 December 2016
(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Monarch Brass (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 15 December 2016 (2016 Midwest Clinic)
- Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 22 May 2016
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Allegro from "Symphony No. 10" (tr. Fisher) (1954/2010)
- Ballet Suite #4 (arr. Pappajohn) (1953)
- Batterie from "The Nose" (arr. Schaefer) (1928/1978)
- Concertino (orch. Singleton) (1953/)
- Dance I. See: Jazz Suite No. 2
- Ein Volksfest (arr. Rembach) (1955/1995)
- Ein Volksfest. See: Folk Festival
- Excerpts from "Symphony No. 5" Finale (arr. Longfield) (1937/2007)
- Festive Overture (arr. Frost) (1954/2016)
- Festive Overture (tr. Hunsberger) (1954/1965)
- Festive Overture (tr. Martin) (1954/2016?)
- Festive Overture (tr. Patterson) (1954/)
- Festive Overture (tr. Takahashi) (1954/1998)
- The Fire of Eternal Glory (tr. Timothy Rhea) (1960/2011)
- Fire of Eternal Glory (arr. Curnow) (1960/2011)
- Folk Dances (tr. Reynolds) (1949/1979)
- Folk Dances (arr. Erickson) (1949/1979)
- Folk Dances (arr. Curnow) (1949/2009)
- Folk Festival (tr. Hunsberger) (1955/1971)
- Folk Festival. See also: Ein Volksfest
- Fortinbras March from "Hamlet" (tr. Suchoff) (1932/1967)
- The Gadfly (1955/)
- The Gadfly (tr. Patterson) (1955/)
- Galop (tr. Hunsberger) (1959/1971)
- Galop (from "The Limpid Stream") (tr. Miller) (1935)
- Hamlet Suite (tr. Suchoff) (1964/1975)
- Intermezzo (arr. Cahn) (1928/1986/1994)
- Jazz Suite No. 2 (arr. de Meij) (post-1956/1994)
- March (arr. Curnow) (2014)
- March (arr. de Meij). See: Jazz Suite No. 2
- March of the Soviet Militia (ed. Iakubov) (1970/2006)
- October, Op 131 (arr. Mitchell) (1967)
- Overture on Russian and Kirg (arr. Janssen)
- Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Songs (tr. Duker) (1963/1989)
- Overture to "The Gadfly" (arr. Geert Flik) (1955/2006)
- Piano Concerto No 2 (tr. Pontini) (1957/2012)
- Piano Concerto No 2 in F Major (arr. Bamonte)
- Piano Trio No. 2 (arr. Graham)
- Priest and His Servant Balda, The (1934)
- Prelude, Op. 34, No. 14 (arr. Reynolds) (1988)
- Prelude 21 and Fugue 1 (arr. McCullough) (1952/)
- Romance (arr. Peel) (1955/1985)
- Spanish Dance from "The Gadfly" (arr. Curnow)
- Symphony No. 1 (tr. Scarbrough) (1924-25)
- Symphony No. 5, Mvmt I (tr. Schaeffer)
- Symphony No. 5, Mvmt II (tr. Smith) (1937/1944)
- Symphony No. 5: Finale (tr. Righter) (1937/1947)
- Symphony No. 5, Mvmt IV (tr. Rogers) (1937/2003)
- Symphony No. 5, Mvmt IV (tr. Bocook) (1937/2005)
- Symphony No. 9 (arr. Mertens and Suykerbuyk) (1945/1986)
- Symphony No. 9 (tr. Schaefer) (1945/1976)
- Symphony No. 10, Mvt. II (tr. Fisher) (tr. Fisher) (1954/2010)
- Symphony No. 10, Mvmt II (tr. O'Brien) (1954)
- Symphony No. 11: Second Movement Excerpts (arr. Daehn) (1957/1989)
- Tahiti Trot (tr. Brubaker) (1927/2009)
- Three Symphonic Preludes (arr. Reed)
- Two Scarlatti Pieces (1928)
- Waltz No. 2 (arr. Connery) (post 1956/1996)
- Waltz No. 2 (arr. Curnow) (post 1956/2010)
- Waltz No. 2 (arr. De Meij). See: Jazz Suite No. 2
- Hunsberger, Donald. (2009). "Dmitri Shostakovich: Festive Overture." In: Performance Study Guides of Essential Works for Band (pp. 5-13). Edited by Kenneth L. Neidig. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications.
- Kirkland, Anthony. (2015). "Festive Overture Performance Tips.” ITG Journal [International Trumpet Guild] 39, no. 1 (October 2014): 84–86, 107.
- Lee, Douglas. (2000). Masterworks of 20th-Century Music. (pp. 374-376). New York: Routledge.
- Michael Martin, Northshore Concert Band
- Miles, Richard, comp. and ed. (2000). Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Volume 3. (pp. 481-486). Chicago: GIA Publications.
- Nicholson, Chad. (2009). Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI. (pp. 94-95). Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications.
- Shostakovich, D.; Hunsberger, D. (1963). Festive Overture Op. 96 [score]. MCA Music: Milwaukee, Wisc.