Overture, The Mikado, Arthur Sullivan (1842—1900)
I still remember the very first time I heard this: it was being played by a very good school orchestra belonging to the boys’ school I was a pupil at, and the orchestra was determined to be even better than usual because it was playing in the girls’ school next door, preparing for their production of The Mikado.
I went across with my friend who played percussion—well, triangle actually—and I think neither of us was wholly focused on the music. But when that sparkling, witty, dancing and sunny music began I fell in love, not with any of the young ladies around me, but with what I soon learned was the special world of Gilbert and Sullivan. Later on I learned about some of his other work, like his lovely part-song ‘The long day closes’, and, of course, that splendid belter of a hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’.
Sir Arthur would have much preferred me to admire his other work, still rarely played—his Irish Symphony in E, his oratorios, his other operas—instead of the light-hearted Savoy operas. But I’m sorry; this music cheers the soul and raises the spirits, and so just enjoy every twinkling moment.
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