Munchs, Ouverture

Conrad Munchs

Ouverture a grande harmonie (1821–1823)
for flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, trumpet, 2 trombones and serpent or contrebasse

  1. Largo-Allegro assai
  2. Andante poco adagio
  3. Minuet

All that is known of Conrad Munchs is that he was the assistant director of the band of the 6th regiment of Royal Swiss Guard. He and Friederich Berr (Conductor of the band of the 2nd regiment of the Royal Swiss Guard), Chevalier Louis (conductor of the band of the 1st regiment of the Royal Guard) and Francois Marchal (conductor of the band of the 20th Legion) joined in creating a Journal d’Harmonie published in 1821–1823 dedicated to band compositions.

Louis in 1803 arranged Lesuer’s Marche seraphique for the coronation of Napoleon at Rheims and arranged the overture of Adams’ opera Le Brasser de Preston for a large band. The fact that Louis also composed an original Grand Harmonie Ouverture, in 5 movements, for the same instrumentation of the Munchs Ouverture suggests that these four conductors may have created a repertoire of serious compositions during the years immediately after Napoleon.

The title, ‘Ouverture‘ is used in the Baroque tradition and might better be replaced today with the title ‘Divertimento.’ This Munchs composition seems to me stylistically appropriate for solo players and would make a fine companion work for the well-known Gounod Petite Symphonie.

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This live performance was given in 1994, in the weeks after the great Northridge Earthquake, by the California State University, Northridge, Wind Ensemble, David Whitwell, Conductor.

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