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A MILITARY BAND CONCERT

Synopsis

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GERTRUDE JOHNSON (Soprano)
CEDRIC SHARPE (Violoncello)
THE WIRELESS MILITARY BAND
Conducted by B. WALTON O'DONNELL
THE SICILIAN VESPERS made its first appearance, in French, at the Paris Opera in 1855, two years after II Trovatore and La Traviata had appeared at Rome and Venice respectively. The libretto, by Scribe, deals with the massacre of the French invaders in Sicily while they were at vespers on Easter Monday, 1282. The tale is a thrilling one, if somewhat sanguinary, and the opera is full of Verdi's inimitable charm, so that it is a little difficult to understand why it has fallen into such neglect. The Overture, however, still holds a warm place in the affections of music lovers, and must be too well known to need very much in the way of description.
It begins with a slow introduction in which a menacing figure on drums and strings forms the accompaniment to a sad tune for woodwinds. The main part of the Overture, in Allegro agitato, begins with astrenuous figure suggestingstrifeand warfare ; this is succeeded, after a silent pause, by a violoncello solo, one of the Verdi melodies which an audience goes away humming to itself. It leads to a march tune beginning very softly and gaining in strength and vigour until we have again a stormy episode. The violoncello melody is repeated, this time with the assistance of clarinets, and with a fuller accompaniment than before being transferred a little later to the violins ,and a strenuous prestissimo brings the Overture to its close.
THE BEGGAR'S OPERA, as all have had opportunities of discovering for themselves, is very different from opera of the conventional order; it is peculiarly English in form. The tale is by Gay, and the music consists almost entirely of songs and ballads of that date (the first quarter of the eighteenth century), all of them of that popular order, which means that people hum and sing and whistle them as they go about. They were chosen because of their popularity, and fitted into the scheme of the opera by Dr. Christopher Pepusch , whose only original contribution to the work was the Overture. In the whole work there are some seventy such popular tunes of the day, some of which are still well enough known to be recognized even by those who have not heard the opera. It had a successful run when it was first performed at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in 1728 ; in a French version it was given in Paris in 1750.

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A MILITARY BAND CONCERT

5XX Daventry, 26 May 1929 15.30






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