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Coriolanus Overture
Original Title
Ouverture zu Coriolan
Beethoven, Ludwig van
Lynsdale-Nock, John
Year Arranged
Original Instrumentation
Full orchestra
Year Published
Catalogue Number
Sheet Music Format
A4, Score (30) & parts (3,3,3,4,3,4,3,3 = 26)
Additional Equipment
Straight mutes
Other Instruments
Structure / Movements
One movement. Allegro con brio
Treble, bass
Key signatures
Horn 1: g - c3 Horn 2: e - a2 Horn 3: f - d3 Horn 4: G - f2 Horn 5: f - ab2 Horn 6: d - g2 Horn 7: f - bb2 Horn 8: C# - f1
Creator's Comments
Performance Notes
The Coriolanus (or Coriolan) Overture op.62 was written in 1807, next to illustrious works such as the Symphony no.4 (many principal hornist's nightmare), the Violin concerto and Piano concerto no.4. It is dedicated to Heinrich Josef von Collin, the German poet and author of the drama Coriolan (not Shakespeare's). With the usual slow introduction omitted, it starts right away with an "Allegro con brio", in this arrangements marked with crotchet (quarter note) equals 160. While that may seem rather fast, a glance through the score will relieve most players (unless you can't read bass clef, hand-stop in the middle-high range, or double-tongue repeated pitches). An excellent overview of the work is given on Music with ease. This arrangement is no literal transcription, as several liberties have been taken mainly in regards to the range used. This shows Lynsdale-Nock's expertise on what effect certain ranges on the horn have, and how they best fit with the (presumed) intentions of the composer. His tendency is to use the middle-high range more, probably to avoid intonation issues and low register mumbling. Several times parts are also brought an octave down (into the middle register), mainly when the texture is busy. This avoids dominance by one player and gives all parts a chance to evenly contribute to the overall sound. Another recurring arranging practice in this work is the splitting of broken-chord accompaniment between players. Rather than keeping groups of four or more together, Lynsdale-Nock creates grooves in each part that, when fit together correctly, are more rewarding to the performer and sound more impressive to the audience. To add to the palette of colours, mutes and hand-stopping is also employed. After the first major fortissimo section, the “piano” (originally in the violas and celli) is given additional emphasis by the mutes called for, which then contrast with the open horns marked “forte”. When the contrasting section is over, the mutes come back out in preparation for the big fortissimo to come. Later on, again before a loud bit, all horns except the bass line play a rhythmical passage (6 bars) hand-stopped. This, again, is a welcome addition of tone colour that enhances the arrangement beyond a strict transcription. Mutes are again used at the end of the piece, to support the pianissimo conclusion. Range-wise, the arrangement moves within the limits of pedal C sharp to top (hand-stopped) D, but the main range used is low D to top B flat. There are a few high notes picked out of nowhere in the first horn part, but nothing that wouldn’t make sense musically or pose too great a challenge for a solid high player. The high parts are arranged descending in order of difficulty: 1, 3, 5, 7, while the low parts are in the more common 2, 6, 4, 8 order. Overall, a slightly challenging but very rewarding piece for a horn ensemble to get stuck in, and sure to please audiences not just with its natural Beethovean appeal, but also John Lynsdale-Nock’s crafty arranging skills. Looking for a piece to open your next concert with? Look no further.
Provision of review score: John Lynsdale-Nock (Corniworld)