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Roman carnival overture op.9
Original Title
Le carnaval romain op.9
Berlioz, Hector
Crees, Eric
Year Arranged
Original Instrumentation
Full orchestra
Cala Music
Year Published
Catalogue Number
Sheet Music Format
A4, Score (56) & parts (4,4,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,4,5=77, plus timpani (2), percussion (2x2=4), total=83)
Additional Equipment
Other Instruments
Timpani, Percussion (2)
Structure / Movements
One movement. Allegro assai con fuoco - andante sostenuto - tempo I allegro vivace
Treble, bass
6/8, 3/4, 9/8, 2/4
Key signatures
2#, 1b
Horn 1: a - d3 Horn 2: B - a2 Horn 3: a - c#3 Horn 4: B - a2 Horn 5: f - b2 Horn 6: c - g2 Horn 7: f - d3 Horn 8: G# - e2 Horn 9: f - a2 Horn 10: A - e2 Horn 11: c# - b2 Horn 12: G - e2 Horn 13: f - a2 Horn 14: G# - e2 Horn 15: f - g#2 Horn 16: D# - c#2
Creator's Comments
Performance Notes
The Roman carnical overture was composer in 1832, and is one of many concert overtures Berlioz wrote. It contains material from his opera Benvenuto Cellini, including the music from the carnival scene (hence the title). The overture is in three sections, opening with the fast woodwind flourishes and string trills. This is followed by one of the most extensive cor anglais (English horn) solos, rivaling the one from the 2nd movement of Dvorak’s Symphony no.9. From the allegro vivace on to the end it’s all carnival madness, and even more so with 16 horns rather than a full set of winds and strings. Crees’ arrangement is, unsurprisingly, in a different key than the original. Had it been in A major, it would not only have had four sharps in the key, but also would have reached e3, all of which is not appreciated by most hornists. The transcription is in G major instead (horn pitch D major), and still challenging enough to play even for the very advanced horn ensemble. The division of parts is different from many other large ensemble ones, with four sections of four players each, and the high parts odd and the low ones even (like four orchestral sections). Between the sections there is a standard relation of high to low tessitura, even though on paper horn 1 and 7 seem to be the highest ones. Of all the parts, only 15 and 16 are easily approachable, with rests during most of the difficult parts, and a fairly limited range and technical demands for the rest. That is two out of sixteen, and this puts the work out of reach (at least if attempted to play at a concert performance level) of many ensembles (if the number of hornists required didn’t do that already). If numbers and technique are not an issue though, this is definitely a piece to get one’s teeth into.
Access to review score: Nancy Joy (NMSU)