Puccini’s Preludio Sinfonico: A New Voice Emerges

At the end of the academic year of 1882, the young Giacomo Puccini submitted the Preludio Sinfonico for his final examination at the Milan Conservatory.

The brief orchestral fantasy unfolds in a single movement (Andante mosso). The influence of Wagner’s Lohengrin can be heard in the shimmering colors of its orchestration and its adventurous chromatic harmony. This blends with the sunny Italian strains of composers such as Pietro Mascagni and Amilcare Ponchielli. Beyond these influences, we can hear Puccini’s distinct voice emerging. There are tantalizing foreshadowings of Manon Lescaut and the sensuous, bittersweet melodies of La BohèmeMelodic material from the piece was reused in Puccini’s early opera, Edgar. 

Preludio Sinfonico is a dramatic interlude waiting for an opera. Its majestic first theme reaches a climax of soaring passion. The second theme is an intimate, flowing waltz in 6/4 time. In the final moments, through an extended, transcendent harmonic progression, time seems to halt as the music drifts into a serene, celestial dreamscape.

Recordings

  • Puccini: Preludio sinfonico, Op. 1, Riccardo Muti, Filarmonica della Scala Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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