|English: The Marseillaise|
National anthem of France
|Also known as||Chant de Guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin (English: War song for the Army of the Rhine)|
|Lyrics||Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, 1792|
|Music||Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle|
|Adopted||July 14, 1795|
|Relinquished||1799 (readopted in 1870)|
"La Marseillaise" (instrumental)
"La Marseillaise"[a] is the national anthem of France. The song was written in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg after the declaration of war by France against Austria, and was originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" ("War Song for the Army of the Rhine").
The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795. The song acquired its nickname after being sung in Paris by volunteers from Marseille marching to the capital. The song is the first example of the "European march" anthemic style. The anthem's evocative melody and lyrics have led to its widespread use as a song of revolution and its incorporation into many pieces of classical and popular music.
As the French Revolution continued, the monarchies of Europe became concerned that revolutionary fervor would spread to their countries. The War of the First Coalition was an effort to stop the revolution, or at least contain it to France. Initially, the French army did not distinguish itself, and Coalition armies invaded France. On 25 April 1792, Baron Philippe-Frédéric de Dietrich, the mayor of Strasbourg and worshipful master of the local masonic lodge, asked his freemason guest Rouget de Lisle to compose a song "that will rally our soldiers from all over to defend their homeland that is under threat". That evening, Rouget de Lisle wrote "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" (English: "War Song for the Army of the Rhine"), and dedicated the song to Marshal Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian freemason in French service from Cham. A plaque on the building on Place Broglie where De Dietrich's house once stood commemorates the event. De Dietrich was executed the next year during the Reign of Terror.
The melody soon became the rallying call to the French Revolution and was adopted as "La Marseillaise" after the melody was first sung on the streets by volunteers (fédérés in French) from Marseille by the end of May. These fédérés were making their entrance into the city of Paris on 30 July 1792 after a young volunteer from Montpellier called François Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in Marseille, and the troops adopted it as the marching song of the National Guard of Marseille. A newly graduated medical doctor, Mireur later became a general under Napoléon Bonaparte and died in Egypt at age 28.
The song's lyrics reflect the invasion of France by foreign armies (from Prussia and Austria) that was under way when it was written. Strasbourg itself was attacked just a few days later. The invading forces were repulsed from France following their defeat in the Battle of Valmy. As the vast majority of Alsatians did not speak French, a German version ("Auf, Brüder, auf dem Tag entgegen") was published in October 1792 in Colmar.
The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on 14 July 1795, making it France's first anthem. It later lost this status under Napoleon I, and the song was banned outright by Louis XVIII and Charles X, being re-instated only briefly after the July Revolution of 1830. During Napoleon I's reign, "Veillons au salut de l'Empire" was the unofficial anthem of the regime, and in Napoleon III's reign, it was "Partant pour la Syrie", but the Government brought back the iconic anthem in an attempt to motivate the French people during the Franco-Prussian War. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, "La Marseillaise" was recognised as the anthem of the international revolutionary movement; as such, it was adopted by the Paris Commune in 1871, albeit with new lyrics under the title "La marseillaise de la Commune". Eight years later, in 1879, it was restored as France's national anthem, and has remained so ever since.
Several musical antecedents have been cited for the melody:
Rouget de Lisle himself never signed the score of "La Marseillaise".
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Arise, children of the Fatherland,
These verses have been omitted from the national anthem.
Dieu de clémence et de justice
God of mercy and justice
In Russia, "La Marseillaise" was used as a republican revolutionary anthem by those who knew French starting in the 18th century, almost simultaneously with its adoption in France. In 1875 Peter Lavrov, a narodnik revolutionary and theorist, wrote a Russian-language text (not a translation of the French one) to the same melody. This "Worker's Marseillaise" became one of the most popular revolutionary songs in Russia and was used in the Revolution of 1905. After the February Revolution of 1917, it was used as the semi-official national anthem of the new Russian republic. Even after the October Revolution, it remained in use for a while alongside The Internationale.
The English philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham, who was declared an honorary citizen of France in 1791 in recognition of his sympathies for the ideals of the French Revolution, was not enamoured of "La Marseillaise". Contrasting its qualities with the "beauty" and "simplicity" of "God Save the King", he wrote in 1796:
The War whoop of anarchy, the Marseillais Hymn, is to my ear, I must confess, independently of all moral association, a most dismal, flat, and unpleasing ditty: and to any ear it is at any rate a long winded and complicated one. In the instance of a melody so mischievous in its application, it is a fortunate incident, if, in itself, it should be doomed neither in point of universality, nor permanence, to gain equal hold on the affections of the people.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a former President of France, has said that it is ridiculous to sing about drenching French fields with impure Prussian blood as a German Chancellor takes the salute in Paris. A 1992 campaign to change the words of the song involving more than 100 prominent French citizens, including Danielle Mitterrand, wife of then-President François Mitterrand, was unsuccessful.
The British historian Simon Schama discussed "La Marseillaise" on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 17 November 2015 (in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks), saying it was "... the great example of courage and solidarity when facing danger; that's why it is so invigorating, that's why it really is the greatest national anthem in the world, ever. Most national anthems are pompous, brassy, ceremonious, but this is genuinely thrilling. Very important in the song ... is the line 'before us is tyranny, the bloody standard of tyranny has risen'. There is no more ferocious tyranny right now than ISIS, so it's extremely easy for the tragically and desperately grieving French to identify with that".
Basti ricordare che "La Marsigliese" nasce da un tema con variazioni di Viotti scritto nel 1781, ben 11 anni prima della comparsa dell'inno nazionale francese ufficiale. English Translation Just remember that "La Marsigliese" was born from a theme with variations by Viotti written in 1781, 11 years before the appearance of the official French national anthem
A dicembre la Camerata Ducale, diretta dal violinista Guido Rimonda, ha eseguito un Tema con variazioni per violino e orchestra sulla Marsigliese, attribuito al grande compositore vercellese Giovan Battista Viotti. Rimonda, che per la Decca sta registrando gli opera omnia dell'illustre concittadino, possiede un manoscritto del Tema con variazioni firmato "GB Viotti" e datato "1781"....... Nel libriccino che accompagna il CD Decca del 2013, è riprodotta la prima pagina del manoscritto. Secondo un esperto di Viotti, il canadese Warwick Lister (Ad Parnassum, XIII, aprile 2015), la firma di Viotti in alto a destra potrebbe essere autentica, ma le parole "2 mars 1781" sono di un'altra mano. Non si può dunque escludere che Viotti abbia davvero scritto una serie di variazioni su un tema che tutt'Europa conobbe a metà degli anni 1790; ma l'idea che il brano risalga al decennio precedente, e che la paternità musicale dell'inno vada girata a un violinista vercellese, è appesa all'esile filo di una data d’incerta mano su un manoscritto d’incerta provenienza. Translation: In December the Camerata Ducale, conducted by the violinist Guido Rimonda, performed a Theme with variations for violin and orchestra on the Marseillaise, attributed to the great Vercelli composer Giovan Battista Viotti. Rimonda, who for the Decca is recording the opera omnia of the illustrious fellow citizen, owns a manuscript of the Theme with variations signed "GB Viotti" and dated "1781"....... In the booklet accompanying the 2013 Decca CD, the first page of the manuscript is reproduced. According to an expert from Viotti, the Canadian Warwick Lister ( Ad Parnassum, XIII, April 2015), Viotti's signature on the top right may be authentic, but the words "2 mars 1781" are from another hand. It cannot therefore be excluded that Viotti actually wrote a series of variations on a theme that all of Europe knew in the mid-1790s; but the idea that the piece dates back to the previous decade, and that the musical authorship of the hymn should be turned to a Vercelli violinist, hangs on the slender thread of a date of uncertain hand on a manuscript of uncertain origin.
Cette partition musicale, que ma famille possède toujours, avait été écrite par Jean-Baptiste Lucien Grisons, chef de maîtrise à la cathédrale de Saint-Omer de 1775 à 1787. Or l'air des Stances sur la Calamnie, par laquelle débute cet oratorio, n'est autre que l'air de la Marseillaise. English Translation: This musical score, which my family still owns, was written by Jean-Baptiste Lucien Grisons, chief of master at the cathedral of Saint-Omer from 1775 to 1787. Now the tune of Stances on Calamnia, with which this oratorio begins, is none other than the air of the Marseillaise.
Rouget wrote the words during the night, adapting the music probably from the Oratorio Esther, by Jean Baptiste Lucien Grison, and calling it the Chant de guerre de l'armée du Rhin.
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