11 Great Overtures

Overtures are most often short pieces that introduce a larger piece, such as an opera, ballet, or play. Overtures can also be stand-alone pieces, also known as concert overtures. I have selected 11 great overtures that I highly recommend for the classical music listener.

1. Mozart – Overture from The Marriage of Figaro
  • The overture to Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro

2. Beethoven – Leonore Overture No. 3
  • This is one of four versions of an overture originally intended for Beethoven's opera Fidelio.

3. Beethoven – Egmont
  • Composed for a production of Goethe's play Egmont. 

4. Mendelssohn – Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Composed as a stand-alone concert overture, inspired by Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream.

5. Mendelssohn – The Hebrides
  • A concert overture inspired by Mendelssohn's visit to Scotland. 

6. Wagner – Overture to The Flying Dutchman
  • The overture to Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman

7. Wagner – Overture to Tannhäuser
  • The overture to Wagner's opera Tannhäuser.

8. Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet 
  • A concert overture inspired by Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

9. Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Festival Overture
  • A concert overture inspired by sights and sounds of the Russian Orthodox Church's Easter service. 

10. NielsenHelios Overture
  • A concert overture depicting the rising and setting of the sun over the Aegean Sea. 

11. Leonard BernsteinOverture to Candide 
  • An overture to Bernstein's operetta Candide.

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