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Program Notes & Synopses

Enhance your patrons’ experience with notes that highlight the music’s humanity and illuminate its depth. Choose from our wide selection of pre-written pieces or commission custom notes that complement your concert story.

Program Notes & Synopses

Enhance your patrons’ experience with notes that highlight the music’s humanity and illuminate its depths.

Custom Notes

Tell your own concert story by commissioning synopses and program notes that fit you needs. Just tell us what you’d like to have, and we'll get back to you with a quote.


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J. Strauss: Die Fledermaus Overture

J. Strauss: Die Fledermaus Overture


274 words
program notes by Chris Myers

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Copyright © 2015 Chris Myers. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution or reproduction prohibited.

Die Fledermaus Overture
Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)
flute/piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, percussion, strings

First performance: April 5, 1874, Theater an der Wien, Vienna. Johann Strauss, Jr., conductor.

Although the form may have initially gained popularity in 1850s Paris, operetta soon filled the seats of theaters throughout Europe. Austrian audiences were particularly enamored with these quick-paced theatrical works by composers such as Offenbach and Suppé. The comic plots and infectious melodies of the genre were a natural fit for Johann Strauss, Jr., whose polkas and waltzes had been delighting Viennese audiences for years.

Strauss’ most popular stagework, Die Fledermaus (The Bat), is best characterized as a romp—a husband sentenced to prison stops by a party on his way to jail, finds his wife in the company of an overly-attentive companion, and wackiness ensues. The catchy, tuneful music mirrors the quick-paced action onstage, and it is paired with remarkably skillful orchestration (Brahms, on hearing the show for the first time, is said to have remarked, “Now there is a master of the orchestra!”). It is no coincidence that Die Fledermaus is the single most oft-performed operetta in the repertoire.

The show’s overture is in the grand tradition established by Rossini and other composers of light opera. Little attempt is made to fit the piece into any classical form; rather, the overture gives us a preview of the tunes that will be heard in the course of the evening. Polkas and waltzes spill effortlessly one after another out of the orchestra, the memorable melodies and sudden tempo changes foreshadowing the aural delights to come.

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