Overture to Candide
by Leonard Bernstein

(Born; Lawrence, MA, 25 Aug 1918; Died;New York, 14 Oct 1990 ). American conductor, composer and pianist. He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute and was a protege of Koussevitzky. In 1944 he made his reputation as a conductor when he stepped in when Bruno Walter was ill; thereafter he was associated particularly with the Israel PO(from 1947), the Boston SO and the New York PO (musical director, 1958-69), soon achieving an international reputation, conducting in Vienna and at La Scala. During his tenure the New York PO flourished as never before. A gifted pianist, he often performed simultaneously as soloist and conductor. At the same time, he pursued a career as a composer, cutting across the boundaries between high and popular culture in his mixing of Mahler and Broadway, Copland and Bach. His theatre works are mostly in the Broadway manner: they include the ballet Fancy Free (1944) and the musicals Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957). His more ambitious works, many of them couched in a richly chromatic, intense post-Mahlerian idiom, often have a religious inspiration, for example the ‘Jeremiah’ Symphony with mezzo (1942), ‘Kaddish’, with soloists and choirs (1963) and the theatre piece Mass (1971). OperasTrouble in Tahiti (1952), rev. as A Quiet Place (1983)

Year of publication: 1955

Publisher: Schirmer

Grade: 6

Type of composition: Overture

Style: fast

Programming suggestions: Bernstein’s Overture to Candide was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in 1957, with the composer conducting. Although Bernstein’s comic operetta Candide was short-lived on broadway, the Overture has become a favorite in the repertoire of orchestras and bands through out the world. Although it is a very short work, lasting only three minutes, this transcription by Walter Beeler is an extremely challenging work for any band.

Solo instruments: flute, bass clarinet, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, piccolo

Anecdotal notes: Many meter and key changes. Some runs are odd, but mostly scale and arpeggios. Sudden changes in dynamics will require good control by ensemble. Harp part adds a few effects, but not necessary. Strong players require in every section due to its technical nature.


Recording of "Overture to Candide"