• Ian Passmore

Music that doesn't suck, No. 9: Two Operas in 14 Minutes!

This week’s post is a short one, highlighting two overtures by Carl Maria von Weber: Euryanthe, and The Ruler of Spirits.

Weber is one of the first prominent German composers whose works lies staunchly within the Romantic Era. His 1821 opera Der Freischütz (“The Freeshooter”, or “The Marksman”) is generally considered to be the earliest example of German Romantic Opera.

The Overtures to Euryanthe and The Ruler of Spirits -- that is always the proper formatting for operatic overtures, by the way: “Overture to (Insert Opera Title Here)” -- are all that remain of those works in modern programming. Euryanthe, though one of Weber’s most important operas, is almost never performed today; and The Ruler of Spirits only exists as a stand-alone concert overture, the product of an abandoned 1805 opera named Rübezahl.

Of the two, the Overture to Euryanthe has secured its place in the standard orchestral repertoire...and is a personal favorite of mine; but The Ruler of Spirits is a thrilling piece in its own right, demonic in both character and difficulty! The linked performances are by two of classical music's most revered partnerships. Euryanthe comes from a relatively new album by the Vienna Philharmonic and Christian Thielemann, while The Ruler of Spirits was recorded in the 1970s by the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan. Give both pieces a listen -- they’re short, and I promise you won’t regret it. Enjoy! :)


Ruler of Spirits:

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