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Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
(arranged for Wind Nonet by Arthur Campbell)
First produced on December 24, 1882, Iolanthe marked a new development in Sullivan's operatic style, notably in his use of recurring motifs. The piece displayed a stronger musical unity than its predecessors, and it is not surprising, as Arthur Jacobs points out, that the composer decided on this occasion to write his own overture rather than, as was his custom, leaving the task to one of his assistants. (Thematic unity was to assume an even greater importance in his later opera, The Yeomen of the Guard (1888), when Sullivan again supplied the overture himself.)
His decision certainly had nothing to do with the time available for composition; the overture was still unwritten three days before the first night, and was finally finished at 7.0 on the morning of the dress rehearsal. Comprising tunes from the opera, it also introduces a completely new theme in the style of a Mendelssohn scherzo which serves as brilliant counterpoint to the Fairy Queen's second act aria.
Arthur Campbell (1920-1996), a physics teacher by profession, was a gifted amateur musician with a special affection for the small wind ensemble. His fine arrangements are unsurpassed in their craftsmanship and their faithfulness to the spirit of the original text.
© Colin Bradbury 2003