The Overture is an introduction into a more dramatic musical performance such as an opera or ballet. Some overtures are used in concert as a complete stand alone composition. Early overtures began with a fast moving style progressing into a slower movement then returning to its original fast pace; kind of a fast-slow-fast pattern of operatic development established in the latter 17th century mainly by Italian composer Allesandro Scarletti. Overtures occasionally included the non-operatic styles of ensemble singers incorporated into th musical forms of cantatas and oratorios.
In contrast, the overture seemed to skip a century of recognition as it hadn't made any significant impression on theother composers of the era. French composers returned to the overture with a nearly opposite slow-fast-slow pattern, beginning slowly then followed by a bright and rapid allegro then returning to it's slower movement. The operatic overture of this time became a very popular musical form thanks in part also to the genius of composer Gioachino Rossini.
Composers like Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart knew that the Italian overture was highly important to the development of the symphony and took it to the peak of perfection along with other composers of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Concert overtures sometimes depict a spiritual sense of living often beckoning the sounds of life and nature.
Ouverture ‘Orphée aux enfers’ (Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld)
Composed by Jacques Offenbach