noun \ˈō-və(r)-ˌchr, -chər, -ˌtyr, -ˌtr\

: a piece of music played at the start of an opera, a musical play, etc.

: something that is offered or suggested with the hope that it will start a relationship, lead to an agreement, etc.

: the first part of an event : the beginning of something

Full Definition of OVERTURE

a :  an initiative toward agreement or action :  proposal
b :  something introductory :  prelude
a :  the orchestral introduction to a musical dramatic work
b :  an orchestral concert piece written especially as a single movement in sonata form

Examples of OVERTURE

  1. The government has made a significant peace overture by opening the door to negotiation.
  2. <the parade down Main Street served as the overture for a weekend of fun and festivities>

Origin of OVERTURE

Middle English, literally, opening, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *opertura, alteration of Latin apertura — more at aperture
First Known Use: 15th century

Related to OVERTURE

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue



Definition of OVERTURE

transitive verb
:  to put forward as an overture
:  to make or present an overture to

First Known Use of OVERTURE

circa 1650


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Musical introduction to a larger, often dramatic, work. Originating with Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607), overtures served as openings for operas. The large-scale two- or three-part “French overture” invented by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1658) for his operas and ballets was widely imitated for a century. The sinfonia, the standard Italian overture form in the late 17th and 18th centuries, was a principal precursor of the three-part sonata form and thus provided the model for the earliest symphonies, which consisted of three movements. In the 19th century, overtures independent of any larger work usually illustrated a literary or historical theme (see symphonic poem). Overtures to operettas and musicals have traditionally been medleys of their themes.


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