Lortzing , Albert


Lortzing , Albert

Yelva ou l’Orpheline russe (LoWV 24), Overture



Albert Lortzing

Overture to Yelva, die russische Waise (LoWV 24)
after Eugène Scribe’s play Yelva ou l’Orpheline russe (1828)

(b. Berlin, 23 October 1801 – d. Berlin, 21 January 1851)

Preface (by Boris Brinkmann, Graz, June 2016)

It does not often happen that a completely unknown piece of music by an otherwise well-known composer crops up in a flea market. Yet the incidental music to Eugène Scribe’s play Yelva, die russische Waise (LoWV 24) was not exactly lost: it is thoroughly documented in the nineteenth-century literature on Lortzing, and a well-directed search would have disclosed the whereabouts of the autograph score in the Berliner Staatsbibliothek (Mus.ms.autogr. Lortzing, A.18) and another incomplete autograph in the Lippische Landesbibliothek, Detmold. But it had never appeared in print.

All the greater my amazement, then, when during a clearance sale at Hamburg’s public libraries in 2003, I stumbled upon a volume with a handwritten score and parts for a Lortzing overture otherwise unknown even to seasoned musicians, and was able to buy it for two euros. The overture, an effective concert piece, is surely one of Lortzing’s better contributions to the genre and especially well-suited for amateur and youth orchestras, as was promptly demonstrated during a concert of the Hamburg Orchestral Society.

Gustav Albert Lortzing was born into an artistic family: both his parents were actors, which at the time meant singer-actors. They sang whatever songs appeared in stage plays, as well as vaudevilles, Liederspiele, and even comic operas. Not only did the young Lortzing follow in the professional footsteps of his parents, he likewise married an actress. The performances in which all four Lortzings stood on stage and bandied quasi-improvised lines back and forth must have been merry affairs.

In 1826 the young couple received a six-year contract in Detmold, from which base they also gave performances in Münster, Osnabrück, and Bad Pyrmont several months a year. The theater, headed by August Pichler, had opened the previous year with Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. Lortzing would later turn many of the plays performed there into operas: Der Bürgermeister von Saardam (as Zar und Zimmermann), Heinrichs Jugendjahre (as Zum Grossadmiral), Hans Sachs, and Die beiden Grenadiere (changed Die beiden Schützen for the opera). On his free evenings he occasionally played cello in the orchestra pit. It is perhaps not by chance that the Yelva Overture opens with ten attractive bars for cello…

Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score Data


Repertoire Explorer



Performance Materials



210 x 297 mm





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