Overture to Røverborgen
Composer: Friedrich Kuhlau / arr. Henrik Wiese
Instrument: Flute Quartet
Duration: 4 min.
Arranged by Henrik Wiese
With his Singspiel Røverborgen (“The Robbers’ Castle”) Kuhlau made his debut as an opera composer. It was composed in 1813 and 1814 and is based on the libretto by Adam Oehlenschläger. In his autobiography he praised Kuhlau for his sense of drama. Next to his Singspiel Elverhøj (“Elves’ Hill”), Røverborgen is said to have been the most frequently played opera and, moreover, the only one that was performed outside of Denmark during his lifetime. In January 1817 the Deutsche Beobachter commented on a performance of the Singspiel in Hamburg: “The German musical art may pride itself in finding a worthy priest in Friedrich Kuhlau. His composition of Oehlenschläger’s The Robbers’ Castle, which he presented to us during his residence here last winter, certainly deserves to be counted as one of the most successful works of our great masters.” Kuhlau also tried to pitch his work in a letter to the publisher Gottfried Christoph Härtel in Leipzig and uses the opportunity to add that the Overture “also makes a brilliant impact in concert”. He has a point!
The arrangement at hand was written in 2019 in occasion of the 18th International Flute Competition Friedrich Kuhlau in Uelzen, Germany. It was my ambition to enlarge the repertoire for flute quartet by another one of Kuhlau’s works and at the same time pay homage to a composer often underrated.
The flute quartet Fleitjepiepen!, consisting of Clara Büchi, Katrin Fuss, Emma Hochschild and Luca Höhmann, performed this Overture together with the Overture and Quartet No. 9 from the opera Lulu op. 65 in the final round of the competition, and won a second prize in the categorie Flute Quartet. A recording from the final concert can be found on YouTube.
About the composer +
Friedrich Daniel Rudolf Kuhlau (11 September 1786 – 12 March 1832) was a German-born Danish composer during the Classical and Romantic periods. He was a central figure of the Danish Golden Age and is immortalized in Danish cultural history through his music for Elves' Hill, the first true work of Danish National Romanticism and a concealed tribute to the absolute monarchy. To this day it is his version of this melody which is the definitive arrangement.
During his lifetime, Kuhlau was known primarily as a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera, but was responsible for introducing many of Beethoven's works, which he greatly admired, to Copenhagen audiences. Considering that his house burned down destroying all of his unpublished manuscripts, he was a prolific composer leaving more than 200 published works in most genres.
Front Cover design: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Engraving: Henrik Wiese
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark