An Overture was originally a short piece of music performed before opening the curtain at an
opera or at a play. The word derives from French 'ouverture' = opening. It has evolved to mean a short work in one movement only, but often in
The overtures written by Mozart,
Rossini were intended as the
openings for their operas, but their music is so intrinsically brilliant, that
it played on its own in orchestral concerts. Romantic composers including
Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn wrote overtures as a musical form on its own, not
associated with any opera.
Rossini's overtures have a very marked character, in the use of long and
repeated several times. He states his themes gently at first, but then builds up
the sound by successively adding more instruments and orchestral sections, as
well as asking the orchestra to play more loudly. This has given rise to the
term 'a Rossinian Crescendo'.