Daniel-François-Esprit Auber: Overtures Piano Reductions (1813 – 1826)


  • Composer(s): Daniel-François-Esprit Auber
  • Edition: Da Vinci Edition
  • Editor: Robert Lettelier, Simon Ireson
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Piano
  • ISMN: 9790216211864
  • Pages: 144
  • Period: Romantic
  • Publication year: 2020
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The Overtures, by Robert Lettelier

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, the most amiable French composer of the nineteenth century, was a composer who came into his compositional abilities late in life. After Le Maçon (1825) and La Muette de Portici (1828), his life was filled with success. In 1829 he was appointed a member of the Institut, in 1839 Director of Concerts at Court, in 1842 Director of the Conservatoire, in 1852 Musical Director of the Imperial Chapel, in 1861 Grand Officer of the Légion d’Honneur.
His equable and balanced temperament was reflected in his musical attitudes. While working almost exclusively in musical drama, he avoided any excess of emotion, never taking feelings to intensity. He remained within the limits of the discreetly nuanced tones that reflected his own life, his own very particular Parisian elegance. Despite criticisms about his limitations, he was able to infuse his music with its own very delicate perfumes, be it the incensed piety of nuns in Le Domino noir, or the freshness of an Easter morning chorus in Fra Diavolo. He could also conjure up the lives of the townspeople of Naples and the ferocity of Vesuvius in eruption in La Muette de Portici, or the impassive splendour of the Venetian state in its glory in Haydée. He was also capable of some surprising emotional exploration: the love of the brother Masaniello for his wronged disabled sister Fenella in La Muette again, the searing doubts of a monarch in love with his trusted friend’s wife in Gustave III, or a man racked by dark, unresolved issues from his past in Haydée.
Auber died on 12 May 1871 in advanced old age and in the pitiful conditions of civil strife, after a long and painful illness which worsened during the Siege of Paris during the Commune. He had refused to leave the city he had always loved despite the dangers and privation. His elegant and restrained art now has little interest for the world of music, attuned as it is to meatier substance of verismo, high-Wagnerian ideology and the excoriations of the twentieth century. But he was once a household name, his pared style, fleet rhythms and trammelled emotion once a byword of taste and the focus of a universal affection.
The ubiquity of Auber’s overtures, once as popular as those of Rossini and Suppé, and the influence of his melodies and dance rhythms on piano and instrumental music, and on Romantic comic opera, especially in Germany, was overwhelming. The operas themselves have virtually passed out of the repertoire, but some of their overtures live on vicariously and sound fresh and charming when given the chance – The Bronze Horse, Masaniello, The Crown Diamonds, Fra Diavolo, The Black Domino.