Promenade Overture




For orchestra





2 flutes and piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns (optional 6), 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (4 players), harp, and strings


8 minutes

commissioned by


the Boston Pops Orchestra, John Williams, conductor; Boston, MA (July 10, 1981)

For orchestra

Program note

The premise of Promenade Overture took root years ago when the composer was caught off guard by Haydn’s delightful Farewell Symphony. This Haydn work is often used to end a concert because during the last movement the players gradually exit, leaving two violins to finish the symphony on a bare stage.

Since overtures usually begin concerts, a reverse of this procedure – the entrance of an orchestra while playing – became both an interesting idea and a compositional challenge.

Offstage brass announce the start of the work, with the trumpets playing the last five measures of the Farewell Symphony – backwards. This forms a fanfare announcing the promenade of performers, which starts with the piccolo, concludes with the tuba, and contains a variety of motives which eventually form a lyrical melody that is built to a climax by the full orchestra.

– John Corigliano

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