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Iolanthe Overture

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Sir Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan (arr. Ted R. Marcus)

General Info

Year: 1882 / 2009
Duration: c. 7:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Ted R. Marcus
Cost: Score and Parts - $45.00


Full Score
C Flute 1-2-3-4 (4th doubles piccolo)
Oboe 1-2
Bb Clarinet 1-2-3
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra-Alto Clarinet (optional alternate for String Bass)
Bassoon 1-2
Eb Alto Saxophone 1-2
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet 1-2-3
Horn in F 1-2-3-4
Trombone 1-2-3 (3rd is bass trombone)
Euphonium (bass clef)
Baritone (treble clef)
String Bass

  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal

Mallet Percussion:

  • Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Triangle



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Iolanthe was W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's seventh collaboration, premiering in 1882. It's a fanciful story about fairies (mischievous magical winged folk) that satirizes the absurdities of laws, lawyers, and Parliament.

The Iolanthe Overture is an exception to Sullivan's usual practice of writing overtures for comic operas at the last minute before the opening, and often delegating that task to an assistant. Those overtures are straightforward medleys, whose place on concert programs is solely due to the enduring appeal of the tunes they contain.

Possibly in response to increasing criticism that he was squandering his talent on comic operas, Sullivan spent a day and a half composing an overture much more sophisticated than the usual potpourri. Using sonata form, he weaves together three mostly-complete melodies with fragments of the opera's elaborate first-act finale. He also includes themes not drawn from the opera's score: A tutti fanfare alternates between triple and duple meter; and "fairy music" inspired by Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream incidental music appears twice in counterpoint to a theme that becomes the overture's rousing conclusion.

- Program Note by Ted R. Marcus

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

Audio Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Peninsula Symphonic Winds (Richard Babcock, conductor) - 23 May 2010 and 15 May 2016

Works for Winds by this Composer


None discovered thus far.