The Napoleonic Music and Movies
J. David Markham
International Napoleonic Society
When one considers the legacy of the Napoleonic era, music is often forgotten. Yet this period produced some stirring music. Whether it is the patriotic strains of La Marseillaise, or the reflection of imperial glory in La Victoire et à Nous, music of the epoch reflects the rich and exciting history of the period. It must be remembered, however, that the recordings available today will not sound exactly like the music did during the actual period. The instruments have changed, and often the music has been re-scored to reflect more modern tastes and expectations. That fact notwithstanding, music of the period can be a real delight to hear.
I have not included music from the period with no direct Napoleonic or Revolutionary connection. Thus, collections of work by period composers that might well have been heard by Napoleon are not included here. This means I had to leave out some very nice music, but if I start to include general classical music of the period, the list would be endless! I have also chosen not to include music not available on compact disc, even though there are some records and tapes out there that are not on CD.
I have, however, included some music written in recent times that is meant to reflect the events of the period. Some of this music, ranging from a rock opera to various soundtracks, is as interesting to hear as music from the actual period.
You should also be aware that during the period around the bicentennial of the French Revolution there was a fair amount of “Revolutionary” music produced. Thus, this list actually has more music from the Revolution than from the Napoleonic period proper.
Please note: I am anxious to add to this list anything that I have missed, or anything new when it is available. I encourage all our readers to let me know of any music they feel would be appropriate. I will attempt to purchase it and then add it to the list (of course, if you want to help the cause by sending me a disc, that would be greatly appreciated as well!)
Here then, is my list 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 collection.
Compiled by: Enrico Acerbi