Carl Maria von Weber - Euryanthe: Overture

Carl Maria von Weber composed the opera Euryanthe  during the period 1822-23 and first presented it in Vienna on October 25, 1823. The work was based on a French medieval history of 13th century.  The year Euryanthe was presented was marked by Vienna's interest in Italian operas, particularly those of Rossini . Although the initail reception was enthusiastic, the opera lasted only twenty performances, with complaints about the libretto and the length of the opera. For the failure of the play, the somewhat wordy libretto of the poet and writer Helmina von Chézy was blamed. Franz Schubert also commented that "This is not music". Nevertheless, the introduction is an excellent example of orchestral writing and remains one of the best. The Overture begins with an extremely lively and cheerful phrase. Oboe and clarinet, supported by horn and trombones, then present a theme of three emphatic notes, followed by a shorter ascending group of notes (with a stressed rhythm). Soon t

Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre, Op. 40

The deadly forms of this work reflect the gloomy mood presented by the Danse Macabre of Saint-Saëns.

Saint-Saëns's defense of new ideas in music wasn't just theoretical. He was responsible for many musical modernities. A perfect example of these modernities is the symphonic poem he developed with his friend and hero Franz Liszt. Saint-Saëns was the first Frenchman to compose in this form.

The Danse Macabre is one of his most popular symphonic poems. He processes a traditional history and paints it with great emotional depth with the virtuosity of the instruments and orchestra. The subject of death represents a skeleton that leads the living to the tomb and has its roots in the symbolism of the Middle Ages. In the 19th century this theme had developed into a midnight feast of resurrected skeletons.

The composition of Saint-Saëns originally wanted to be the musical version of a modern French poem, showing Death playing the violin in the icy courtyard of a church, while the skeletons of the dead stand up and dance its demonic melody.

Saint-Saens's innate ability to dramatize music appears more than ever in this macabre version of a traditional story. The clever orchestration that produces a universally creepy effect is an element of his legendary talent.

The work begins with slow, careful, distinct notes that announce the advent of midnight and the macabre result is achieved almost immediately by a slow waltz on the solo violin. The swirling melody accelerates as the instruments combine to create the sense of death's triumph over mortals. Then suddenly, an oboe that mimics the cock's lap at dawn announces the advent of the dawn light. The skeletons return to the graves as Death acknowledges that his time has passed.

When the French audience first heard the Danse Macabre in 1875, they did not appreciate the modernity of Saint-Saëns and greeted the work with such noisy boos that the composer's elderly mother fainted. Today it is considered one of his most popular works.