Fromental Halevy

Marche heroique

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Marche heroique, for the return of the remains of Napoleon to Paris, by Fromental Halevy, modern edition for concert band by David Whitwell.

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Product Description

Marche hero­ique
for the return of the remains of Napoleon to Paris
Fro­men­tal Halévy
Mod­ern edi­tion by David Whitwell (1937–)

Date: 1840
Instru­men­ta­tion: Con­cert Band
Dura­tion: 7:30
Lev­el: 4

Recording

Notes on Halevy, Marche heroique

Jacques-François-Fro­men­tal-Élie Halévy (27 May 1799 – 17 March 1862) was a French com­pos­er remem­bered main­ly for his opera La Juive, which was praised high­ly by Mahler and Wag­n­er. After study­ing at the Con­ser­va­toire with Cheru­bi­ni he became an active choral con­duc­tor, com­pos­er and was elect­ed to the Insti­tut de France in 1836. His son-in-law and for­mer stu­dent was the com­pos­er Georges Bizet.

The Marche hero­ique was com­posed for the great occa­sion when the remains of Napoleon were returned to Paris on 14 Decem­ber 1940. A great pro­ces­sion car­ried the remains across Paris in the fash­ion of the great pro­ces­sions of the French Rev­o­lu­tion. Indeed one of the fea­tures of this Marche are long paus­es filled only by the sound of a res­onat­ing gong, which was the cen­tral fea­ture of one of the great com­po­si­tions of the Rev­o­lu­tion, the March lugubre of 1790 by Gossec. One news­pa­per report­ed on the use of the gong, as it is also used by Halvey, as ‘the notes, detached from one anoth­er, break the heart, pulling at ones insides.’ Anoth­er news­pa­per wrote that the sound of the gong ‘filled the soul with reli­gious ter­ror.’ These accounts reflect the fact that the large gong had nev­er before been heard in Paris and this great pub­lic sen­sa­tion caused it to be imi­tat­ed in lat­er com­po­si­tions, such as the Requiem for Louis XIV (1815) by Bochsa.

One observ­er of this solemn pro­ces­sion was the writer, Vic­tor Hugo, who gave his impres­sions as fol­lows:

The whole pos­sess­es a grandeur. It is an enor­mous mass, gild­ed all over, whose stages rise in a pyra­mid atop the four huge gild­ed wheels that bear it. […] The actu­al cof­fin is invis­i­ble. It has been placed in the base of the car­riage, which dimin­ish­es the emo­tion. This is the carriage’s grave defect. It hides what one wants to see: that which France has reclaimed, what the peo­ple are await­ing, what all eyes were look­ing for—the cof­fin of Napoleon.