Overture to "Iolanthe"

From Wind Repertory Project
Sir Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan (trans. Erwin)

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General Info

Year: 1882 / 2009
Duration: c. 7:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Music by Paul Erwin
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $87.50   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Almost nothing else delights an audience than the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan, especially if it comes from a work where he was paired with Sir William Gilbert. Iolanthe (or "The Peer and The Peri") is a work full of memorable melodies and it's overture is full of some of its best.

- Program Note from publisher

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


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State Ratings

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  • New Jersey City University Symphony of Winds and Percussion (Patrick Burns, conductor) – 14 November 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


None discovered thus far.