Second Concert Overture in A Major for grand orchestra Op.101
(b. Frankfurt, 24 October 1811 – d. Cologne, 11 May 1885)
Concert Overture no. 2 in A major, op. 101
Born two days after Liszt in 1811, Ferdinand Hiller was one of the most prominent musicians in Germany in the middle years of the nineteenth century. He did not have the original genius of Schumann or Liszt, but he was at the centre of musical affairs, especially during the long period he spent in charge of the music in Cologne, and he composed a great quantity of music. He was heavily built, wealthy, urbane and well travelled, and he had a wide network of friends and contacts across Europe. He spent seven years in Paris, where he was on close terms with Berlioz, Chopin and Liszt, and a similar period in Rome. He was close to Mendelssohn in Leipzig, and he worked with Schumann in Dresden. As pianist, conductor, composer and teacher he wielded great influence in Cologne and nearby cities, and his friendship with Schumann (who succeeded him as conductor in Düsseldorf) turned into an alliance of like-minded musicians whose principal bond was a distaste for Wagner and the threat he posed to the flourishing mainstream of German music, perceived to be a grand symphonic tradition stemming from Beethoven. He was on friendly terms with Brahms and Bruch. In his later years he also wrote a number of books.
His principal works were choral, and he also wrote half a dozen operas. Among the relatively few orchestral works are four overtures, two derived from theatre (Faust and Demetrius, after the five-act play by Herman Grimm) and two simply titled ‚Konzertouvertüre‘. The second Konzertouvertüre was composed in 1863 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Mozartstiftung in Frankfurt. This was founded in 1838 to assist young composers, also to help established older composers who found themselves in need.
Hiller‘s overture was first performed in the new hall of the Frankfurt Liederkranz on 25 June 1863, conducted by the composer, and published in the same year by Schott of Mainz with a dedication to the Danish composer Niels Gade. The first performance in England was at the Crystal Palace, London, on 31 October 1868. The overture maintains a single tempo throughout and adopts a traditional sonata-form outline, with a secondary theme nine bars before letter B, a second subject on the cellos at letter C, a development beginning shortly after letter E, a recapitulation at letter H, and a coda at letter L.
Hugh Macdonald, 2017
For performance material please contact Schott,