(Fr. ouverture; Ger. Ouvertiire, Vorspiel, Einleitung ; Ital. overtura), i.e. opening. This term was originally applied to the instrumental prelude to an opera and later to orchestral works of an independent, selfexisting type. The first important development is due to Lully, as exemplified in his series of French operas and ballets, dating from 1672- 1686. The earlier Italian operas were generally preceded by a brief introduction for instruments, usually called ' Sinfonia,' sometimes ' Toccata.' Monteverdi's opera 1 Orfeo ' (1607) begins w ith a short prelude of nine bars, termed I s Advertisement in Lloyd't Evening Newt. ' Toccata,' to be played three times th r o u g h - being, in fact, little more than a mere preliminary flourish of instruments. Such small beginnings became afterwards somewhat amplified, both by Italian and French composers; but only very slight indications of the overture, as a composition properly so called, are apparent before the time of Lully, who justly ranks as an inventor in this respect. He fixed the form of the dramatic prelude ; the overtures to his operas having not only served as models to composers for nearly a century, but having also been themselves extensively used in Italy and Germany as preludes to operas by other composers. The form of the overture of Lully's time consisted of a slow Introduction, generally repeated, and followed by an allegro in the fugued s t y le ; and occasionally included a movement in one of the many dance-forms of the period, sometimes two pieces of this description. The distinction between the French and Italian styles, on which so much trouble was expended by the musical writers of the 18th century seems to amount to little more than this ; that the French type of overture began with a slow introductory movement, the Italian type with a quick movement.1 The development of the ballet and of the opera having been concurrent, and dance-pieces having formed important constituents of the opera itself, it was natural that the dramatic prelude should include similar features, and no incongruity was thereby involved, either in the overture or the serious opera which it heralded, since the dance music of the period was generally of a stately, even solemn, kind. Up to the time of Gluck the dramatic overture had no special relevance to the character and sentiment of the work which it preceded. In the dedication of his ' Alceste ' Gluck refers to this among his other reforms in stage composition. (See Gluck : Op e r a , ante, p. 699.) He did not, however, always identify the overture with the opera to which it belonged so thoroughly as was afterwards done by including a theme or themes in anticipation of the music which followed, but he certainly made the orchestral prelude what, as a writer has well said, a literary preface should be- ' something analogous to the work itself, so that we may feel its want as a desire not elsewhere to be gratified.' His overtures to ' Alceste ' and ' Iphigenie en Tauride ' run continuously into the first scene of the opera- and the latter is perhaps the most remarkable instance up to that time of special identification with the stage music which it heralds ; inasmuch as it is a distinct foreshadowing of the opening storm scene of the opera into which the prelude is merged. Perhaps the finest specimen of the dramatic overture of the 1 See Oxf. H itt. Mus. vol. iv. p . 286 ft. period, viewed as a distinct orchestral composition, is that of Gluck to his opera ' Iphigenie en Aulide.' The influence of Gluck on Mozart is clearly to be traced in Mozart's first important opera, ' Idomeneo ' (1781), the overture to which, both in beauty and power, is far in advance of any previous work of the k in d ; but, beyond a general nobility of style, it has no special dramatic character that inevitably associates it with the opera itself, though it is incorporated therewith by its continuance into the opening scene. However, in the overture to his ' Don Giovanni ' (1787) we have a distinct identification with the opera by the use, in the introductory ' Andante,' of some of the music introducing the entry of the statue in the last scene, while the solemn initial chords for trombones of the overture to ' Die Zauberflote ' may be supposed to be suggestive of the religious element of the libretto. Since Mozart's time the overture adopted the same general principles of form which govern the first ! movement of a symphony or sonata, without the repetition of the first section. Reverting to the French school, we find a characteristic overture of Mehul's to his opera ' La Chasse du Jeune Henri ' (1797), the prelude to which alone has survived. Cherubini, all of whose great works were produced at Paris, must be specially mentioned as having been one of the first to depart from the pattern of the overture as fixed by Mozart. Cherubini indeed marks the transition point between the regular symmetry of the style of Mozart, and the developments effected by Beethoven. In the dramatic effect gained by the gradual and prolonged crescendo, both he and Mehul seem to have anticipated one of Rossini's favourite resources, as is observable in the overture to his opera ' Anacreon ' (1803). The next step in the development of the overture was taken by Beethoven. In the ' Leonore ' overtures, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, we find references to music in the opera itself.2 Other overtures of Beethoven, such as ' Coriolan ' and ' Egmont,' w T i t te n as preludes to the plays, really belong to the class of independent overtures referred to later. The overtures of Weber are impressed with the character and tone of the opera to which they belong, anticipating themes from the following stage music, while the Mozart model is adhered to in the regular recurrence of the principal subject and the episode. Berlioz left two overtures to his opera of ' Benvenuto Cellini,' one bearing the name of the drama, the other called the ' Camaval romain,' and usually played as an entr'acte. The themes of both are derived more or less from the opera itself. 2 There is a curious anticipation of the famous trumpet-call la th e overture to M6hul's * H616ne.' Since Weber there have been no such fine examples of the operatic overture-suggestive of and identified with the subsequent dramatic action-as those of Wagner. That to ' Tannhauser ' is of especial importance in the history of the overture, as Wagner remodelled it so as to make it a prelude to the drama, rather than an overture in the usual sense. In the later works his practice varies, for sometimes he is content with a mere prelude suggestive of what is to follow ; compare the ' Ring ' introductions with ' Die Meistersinger ' or ' Tristan und Isolde.' The later tendency seems to be to dispense with overtures of an elaborate nature, sometimes indeed a few bars of introductory matter are considered sufficient, just enough to put the hearer into the right frame of mind before the curtain rises. Reference has already been made to the title ' Overture ' as applied to orchestral pieces intended merely for concert use, sometimes with no special purpose, in other instances bearing a specific title indicating the composer's intention to illustrate some poetical or legendary subject. Formerly a symphony, or one movement therefrom, was entitled ' Grand Overture,' or ' Overture,' in the concert programmes, according to whether the whole work or only a portion thereof was used. Thus in the announcements of Salomon's London concerts (1791-94), Haydn's symphonies, composed expressly for them, are generally so described. Like the opera overture such selfexisting works have generally been written in the ' first movement ' form ; they are often called ' Concert-overtures ' and form a valued part of the orchestral repertory. (See E n t r e e ; I ntbada ; I ntroduction ; P r e l u d e ; Symph o n y .) h . F. L . ; rev. N. c. o.