This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (March 2016)
The Tragic Overture (German: Tragische Ouvertüre), Op. 81, is a concert overture for orchestra written by Johannes Brahms during the summer of 1880. It premiered, under Hans Richter, on 26 December 1880 in Vienna. Eight days later, it was repeated at the University of Breslau on a program with the premiere of the Academic Festival Overture. Most performances last between twelve and fifteen minutes.
Brahms chose the title "tragic" to emphasize the turbulent, tormented character of the piece, in essence a free-standing symphonic movement, in contrast to the mirthful ebullience of a companion piece he wrote the same year, the Academic Festival Overture. Despite its name, the Tragic Overture does not follow any specific dramatic program. Brahms summed up the effective difference in character between the two overtures when he declared "one laughs while the other cries."[This quote needs a citation]
- Allegro ma non troppo
- Molto più moderato
- Tempo primo ma tranquillo.
Theorists have disagreed in analyzing the form of the piece: Jackson finds Webster's multifarious description rather obscurist and prefers to label the work's form as a "reversed sonata design" in which the second group is recapitulated before the first, with Beethoven's Coriolan Overture as a possible formal model.
- Clive, Peter (October 2, 2006). Brahms and His World: A Biographical Dictionary. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9781461722809 – via Google Books.
- "Fascinating Insights into Brahms's Tragic Overture". Redlands Symphony.
- Timothy L. Jackson, "Bruckner and tragic reversed sonata form" Bruckner Studies 1997, Cambridge University Press, pp. 172–178
- Pascall, Robert, ed. (2008). Brahms: Biographical, Documentary and Analytical Studies. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-24522-7.
- Tragic Overture, Op. 81: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Orrin, Howard. Program Notes: Tragic Overture, Op. 81 (archived 2016)
- Hansen, Kelly Dean (October 14, 2008). "Listening Guide: Tragic Overture (D minor), Op. 81". Brahms Listening Guides. - (Using a recording by Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic.)
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