Napoleonic and Revolutionary Music
Here is my list, then, of music on compact disk that
comes out of or reflects the Napoleonic and Revolutionary
periods. Where possible, I have included information that
will help the reader locate the disk for his or her own
La Musique de la Garde
COVADIA CD 165108-2. Distributed by MSI. This CD is produced
by a group of the same name that was founded in 1993. No
performing group or date of publication is mentioned. There
are no notes beyond the listing of the 10 songs and their
arrangers. The music is performed quite well. There are,
however, less than eighteen (18) minutes of music.
Considering that most modern CDs have 60-75 minutes of
music, and that the CD costs in the neighborhood of $25 USD,
this is a real drawback, one might even say rip-off! It is
available through CD Mail www.cd.mail.fr.
Why, Soldier, Why? Songs of Battles Lost and
Sound Alive Music SAMPP/CD/402 1995. The New Scorpion Band.
While not strictly Napoleonic, there are a number of
Napoleonic Era pieces, including Bony Crossing the
Rhine/Soldiers Joy, Bold Nelson's Praise, and St. Helena
March. Perhaps most notable to many will be their rendition
of Over the Hills and Far Away. This song regarding the
prospects of a recruit was first heard in the 17th century,
and the version produced here is from Marlborough's 18th
century campaigns. The words even survive as a nursery
rhyme, but most people today know it from the highly
successful Sharpe's series. This disk is well produced and
well worth hearing. Brief but useful notes in English. I
purchased it at The Emperor's HQ (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Soldats, Conscrits et Déserteurs. La Chanson
Traditionnelle: Anthologie de la Chanson
EPM Musique. 983192 ADE 771, 1996. A collection of 14 songs
in French relating to the title (soldiers, conscripts and
deserters). Several appear to be from the Napoleonic period,
but the notes, in French, do not always make that clear. The
French text of each song is provided. I found the
performance of these songs very uninspiring, but as a
historical record of such music the disk is quite useful.
Purchased at The Emperor's HQ (email@example.com).
Coronation Music for Napoleon I.
Koch/Schwann 3-1208-2 H1. This music, long thought lost
forever, was discovered some thirty years ago in a dusty
attic of the Paris Conservatoire, and has only recently been
released. As a part of Napoleonic music history it is
without parallel. Its performance here by the soloists,
chorus and orchestra of the Capella, Saint Petersbourg more
than does it justice. The notes, in English, French and
German, include the words to the music and detailed
information on the music's history and the coronation
ceremony itself. From the cover of the slipcase, notes and
CD showing David's Coronation to the notes and most
especially the music, this is a quality production.
Marengo: L'Europa Scopre Napoleone:
Congresso Internazionale Napoleonico, Cittadella Di
Alessandria 21-26 Giugno. Comune Di Alessandria, Gruppo
Guala. NAP 001 Performed by Orchestra Classica di
Alessandria. This CD was specially produced for the
International Napoleonic Society's Conference (Europe
Discovers Napoleon: 1793-1804) by the Comune of Alessandria,
which hosted the congress. It was my pleasure and honor to
oversee the production of this Congress. The disc contains
some very well done music from the period. More importantly,
this CD also provides the listener with a rare opportunity
to hear a first performance of music composed 200 years ago.
It seems that Napoleon was scheduled to attend a ceremony in
Marengo in 1805 to celebrate his victory at the battle of
Marengo. Melchiorre Devincenti composed a Cantata for tenor
and orchestra to be performed for Napoleon. Unfortunately,
Napoleon never arrived, and the music was never played. The
music was virtually forgotten and thought lost until Marengo
began to prepare for the INS Congress. The current director
of the museum and its archivist, Giulio Massobrio,
discovered this music in the vast storage areas of the
archives and arranged to have it publicly played for the INS
Congress for the very first time. Each participant was also
given a CD of the concert. I am unsure as to whether it is
possible to order this CD, but I sincerely hope so, as it is
a very important piece of history. The notes are relatively
modest and in Italian, and the cover features the poster of
La Harpe au Temps de l'Impératrice
Symphony World SL 941. Catherine Michel, harp. Produced by
the Fondation Napoléon, Malmaison, and La Maison de
Chateaubriand. A wonderful collection of music composed and
played for Joséphine. The notes, in French, give a
nice explanation of the music and its origins, as well as of
the three groups that produced the disc. Beautiful, relaxing
music; much different than most of the music in this
Les Marches Napoléoniennes Sept Batteries de
Tambours Neuf Ordonnances des Fifres et Tambours de la Garde
Impériale Douze Marches et Chansons.
La Musique du 43e R. I. de Lille, sous la direction du
commandant Philibert. 1987, Disques Déesse, Paris.
Distribution: CBS. 276-2 CD. Each of the 27 items are
verbally announced (e.g. "Pour l'Empereur.") The renditions
are excellent, and this is a must for anyone with the
slightest interest in Napoleonic music. Notes (in French)
regarding several of the major selections are included.
Echos de l'Épopée Impériale.
Choix de Musiques Civiles et Militaires du Consulat du
Premier et du Second Empires.
Edité pour le cinquantième Anniversaire de la
Fondation du "Souvenir Napoléonien" par
Eugénie Gal, le 21 Décembre 1937. 1988 SERP,
08 88 CMC 70048. Most of the 41 selections are performed by
the Garde Républicaine de Paris, though several are
performed by other notable groups. The notes include an
introduction by Baron Gourgaud, former Président du
Souvenir Napoléonien and information about the group,
as well as information on several of the more important
selections. Incidentally, the CD itself has David's
unfinished portrait of Napoleon on it which, no doubt, adds
to the listening enjoyment!
Airs Militaires Anciens: Marches Refrains Batteries
de la Garde Impériale: Fanfares Royales et
Corélia CC 875816 (1975). This is a decent rendition
of period music by La Musique de l'Air de Paris.
Unfortunately, there are no notes other than a simple
listing of the 30 items performed, not all of which are
Napoleonic. Still, it makes for good listening and is a
worthy addition to your collection.
Marc Ogeret Chante la Révolution.
1988, SACEM, SOAC Disc, Granit, 882002 CD. Marc Ogeret sings
21 songs of the French Revolution in a style faithful to the
period. This is the finest disc of French Revolutionary
music that I have heard. Extensive notes give the background
and context of the various songs. His rendition of La
Marseillaise is, in my opinion, far better than the usual
operatic versions based on Berlioz.
Chants de France.
École Militaire Interarmes: Promotion Capitaine
Barres, 1992-1993.1993 SERP CMC 7114 SL 888. Compact disc.
Eighteen choral numbers are performed in French, six of
which are described and the words listed in the notes
(French Text). The music comes from several different
periods in French history, and is quite stirring. I
guarantee that you probably have nothing quite like this in
Révolution Française. Choeurs et
Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse.
1988, EMI Digital, CDC 7 49470 2. Many of the selections are
similar to those in the following disc, but sometimes done
in a different style. Of special interest is the rendition
of Le Chant du Départ, which I consider to be one of
the greatest songs to come out of the Revolution. The notes
include English translations. The words for each of the
eight selections are also included, though only in
Révolution Française. Choeur de
l'Armée Française, Orchestre de la Garde
Républicaine, et Mireille Mathieu (dans "La
1988, EMI Digital CDC 7 49473 2 PM 518. This disc contains
23 selections mainly associated with the French Revolution,
but also including material that would have been used into
the Napoleonic period. The renditions are excellent. The
notes include the text of the Déclaration des Droits
de l'Homme et du Citoyen, as well as information on the
Musiques de la Révolution Française.
Orchestre de La Musique Municipale de Bordeaux. 1987,
HARMONIE, Cybelia, CY 825 DS 813. A nice rendition of some
of the traditional music of the Revolution. The notes are in
French, English, and German, and are quite useful, as each
of the 12 selections are discussed.
Le Bal des Citoyens: danses et contredances de la
Ensemble Orchestral de Marseille. ADDA Fonti Musicali
581105. Produced by the Conservatoire National de
Région de Marseille in July and September of 1988.
This compact disc features 24 dances popular from 1789 to
1800. The extensive notes in both French and English provide
Vivé la Liberte
ProArte/BMG D 164530. (1988) Denver Symphony. Most notable
for a nice performance of the Berlioz version of La
Marseillaise, and also includes various other classical
pieces of the period. It is also notable for being in
Digital Surround Sound. The notes, in English, explain both
the music and the joys of surround sound.
Il n'était q'une fois la Révolution
Orchestre Regional de Jazz. 1988, SACEM ORJC 001. This
unique and rare disc was produced to celebrate the
revolutionary role played by the Dauphiné, and was
part of the bicentennial celebrations of the region. It was
produced by the minister of culture in Grenoble among
others. The music itself is a jazz rendition based on
Revolutionary music, and is wonderful. There are no notes
with the CD, but the record version contains text and other
La Revolution Française.
Performed in 1973 and released in 1987, Vogue, SACEM VG 651
600146. This is a rock opera about the French Revolution by
a French group that was very popular at the time. Perhaps
they were the French "The Who!" The music is stirring, the
characterizations of the participants (Louis XVI,
Robespierre, Talleyrand, Danton, Napoleon, et al)
fascinating (and reasonably accurate, in my view), and the
story of the revolution through the eyes of a love-struck
couple, one from the streets of Paris, the other from the
Royal staff, compelling. A great deal of fun mixed in with
Napoleon: Carmine Coppola's Original Music for the
Soundtrack of Abel Gance's 1927 Film
CBS Records MK 37230. Almost all of the original music
composed for the classic 1927 silent film by Abel Gance has
been lost. Kevin Brownlow spent the better part of twenty
years piecing together the film. When Francis Ford Coppola
decided to produce the film, he had his father compose a
complete score to accompany the four hour film. The result
is stirring music evocative of the era, as well as an
important contribution to cinematic history.
Musique pour Napoléon d'Abel
Gance/Soundtrack for Abel Gance's NAPOLEON.
Erato Disques (1994) 4509-94813-2. When Abel Gance produced
his classic 1927 film, an original score was composed by
Arthur Honegger. Only twenty minutes of that original score
have survived. One of his pupils, Marius Constant, composed
new music that used those twenty minutes as a basis for two
hour symphonic work that follows the story of the movie.
Much of the music evokes the themes of period music, and is
well worth a place in a collection of Napoleonic music.
Over the Hills & Far Away: The Music of Sharpe.
Virgin Records (1996).VTCD81 7243 8 41590 2 3 LC 3098. The
Sharpe series on television and video has been a great
success. This music from the series includes some songs that
have been passed down from the era itself, as well as
original music by John Tams (Rifleman Daniel Hagman in the
series) and Dominic Muldowney. The notes include the words
to the traditional songs. This is rousing and poignant music
at its best, and is a worthy addition to your music
collection, as well as to your Sharpe collection which now
includes the videos, a book, and a board game!
Waterloo: Original Soundtrack.
Legend CD20 (1995). The film was produced in 1970, and only
now is the soundtrack available. Like all soundtracks, there
are highs and lows. But if you liked the movie...
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