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The Musical Bridge – Vive la France! 🇫🇷 La Marseillaise

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

L'Histoire de la Marseillaise – A song of revolution

L'Arc de Triomphe. photo by Chait Goli on , CC License
L'Arc de Triomphe. photo by Chait Goli on, CC License

Ba dit dum dum dum dum da dit dum...

Video by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Audio by the US Navy Band Anthem Collection

La Marseillaise is a tune you most likely recognize when you hear, but you may not know what it is or where it comes from. The tune has been used in popular songs, such as The Beatle's All You Need Is Love, in which the tune is featured in full orchestration by producer George Martin. Jazz musician Django Reinhardt used it in his "Échos de France." Max Steiner included it in his score for the iconic film "Casablanca." It has been quoted by many notable composers including Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Gioachino Rossini, Jacques Offenbach, Claude Debussy, and Richard Wagner in their works. One of the one famous uses of the piece is in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

La Marseillaise was composed by amateur composer and army engineer Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in the city of Strasbourg on the French and German border in April, 1792 during the French Revolution. France had recently declared war against Austria and the mayor of Strasbourg, Phillippe Frédéric Dietrich, requested that a new march be written to inspire the French troops and Rouget de Lisle's responded to the call with "Chant de guerre de l'armée du Rhin" ("War Song of the Rhine Army"). The song became popular after it was sung in the Parisian streets by volunteer army units from the city of Marsailles, and as a result, it became known as "La Marseillaise."

It was officially named the national anthem of France by the Revolutionary government, The National Convention on July 14, 1795. This was the sixth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (the armory and political prison), which happened July 14, 1789, and marked the flashpoint of the French Revolution. The piece was banned by Napoleon during the Imperial Period and by Louis VVIII and Charles X due to its revolutionary spirit. It was re-named as anthem during the 1830 July Revolution, but subsequently re-banned at Napoleon III. Finally, it was reinstated once and for all in 1879.

The piece is synonymous with France and French identity, perhaps even more so than other popular national anthems. Its history is the story of revolution and power in the hands of the people. The lyrics speak out against tyranny and send out a stirring call to the revolutionary cause.

Allons, enfants de la patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé. Contre nous, de la tyrannie, L’étendard sanglant est levé; l’étendard sanglant est levé. Entendez-vous, dans les campagnes Mugir ces féroces soldats? Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes. Aux armes, citoyens!

Formez vos bataillons, Marchons, marchons! Qu’un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons. Amour sacré de la Patrie, Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs. Liberté, liberté chérie, Combats avec tes défenseurs; combats avec tes défenseurs. Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire Accoure à tes mâles accents; Que tes ennemis expirants Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire! Aux armes, ci