The symphonic poem based on William Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliet (written in 1880), in sonata form, is based on three main strands of the epic play:
- Friar Lawrence’s piety
- The Montagues and Capulets fighting
- Romeo & Juliet’s romance
The piece opens with the Friar Lawrence theme, which descends into the street battle between the Montagues and Capulets. Cutting through the rivers of blood comes quiet chords, blossoming into the famous love theme.This signifies the first sighting and eventual consummation of Romeo & Juliet’s love.
Then we hear the sound of battle between Romeo & Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin who is eventually killed by Romeo, followed cymbal crashes depicting the Romeo & Juliet’s suicide. The epilogue has a sorrowful, altered version of the love theme, which is followed by a funeral dirge, depicted by the timpani.
Finally the love theme returns in full bloom, with the piece ending with a note of hope. The long ending chord conjures up the intertwined notions of finality and fate.
Suitable for an A Grade/Championship Grade band