program notes by composition > O > Overture to "Candide"

Overture to Candide

Leonard Bernstein/arr. Walter Beeler

Candide was written in 1955, the result of a collaboration for the musical theater between composer Leonard Bernstein and playwright Lillian Hellman and others. Their production was based on Voltaire's novella of 1758 which satirized the fashionable philosophies of his day and, especially, the Catholic church’s Inquisition. Hellman observed a sinister parallel with the activ- ities of the House Un-American Activities Committee. The overture is a tribute to life, full of passion, excitement, enthusiasm and exuberance. It requires speed and precision from the musicians.

The first production of Candide received mixed reviews and soon closed. The music remained popular over the ensuing decades and numerous rewrites, includ- ing operatic versions, were crafted in the quest for the perfect production.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was an iconic American musician who achieved fame as a pianist, composer, educator and conductor. He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He was long associated with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he made over half of his more than 400 recordings.

Bernstein’s compositions include operas, ballets, masses, jazz, concertos, musi- cals ( West Side Story ), movie music and symphonies. He achieved broad popular- ity with concert and lecture series in the new medium of television, starting with Omnibus in 1954, and followed by the extraordinary Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic that extended over 14 seasons.

Last updated on November 17, 2017 by Palatine Concert Band