(© 2007 Pierre-René Serna)
Translation by Michel Austin
(© Michel Austin)
The Marche d’Isly
The Chant des Chérubins and Pater Noster
Valse chantée par le vent dans les cheminées d’un de mes châteaux en Espagne
This page is also available in the original French
The New Berlioz Edition, published by Bärenreiter, was completed in March 2006. This monumental project was undertaken in 1967 as a prelude to the celebrations for the centenary of the composer’s death, which turned out to be particularly lavish in Great Britain. Its guiding hands are Hugh MacDonald, general editor, and Richard Macnutt, general secretary. This major edition, the result of immense labours, aims at presenting the entire musical output of Berlioz in scores that are at once critical and practical to use, and it will henceforward be the indispensable work of reference. It comes after the scores published by Breitkopf & Härtel (1900-1911) and Choudens (for Les Troyens and Benvenuto Cellini) which had gaps and shortcomings which were criticised in their time by experts such as Jacques Barzun.
There is nevertheless a handful of pieces which were not included in the NBE (which also omits the 1853 Covent Garden version of Benvenuto Cellini). These are admittedly minor items, and in the case of some of them their authenticity and attribution cannot be guaranteed with certainty, which may be the explanation for their omission. It seemed to us interesting to present these scores on the Hector Berlioz Website, in the manner as it were of an appendix to the NBE, if only to provide the evidence for the reader to decide.
Our thanks go in particular to Régine Kopp, and also to Olivier Teitgen and Christian Wasselin, who assisted us in this modest attempt to set the record straight.
The Marche d’Isly (H 108), an orchestral version by Berlioz of the piano piece Marche triomphale d’Isly opus 30 by Léopold de Meyer, is frequently presented as a lost work by Berlioz. The original manuscript of the composer is lost and was not published under his supervision. But it is known from conclusive evidence that Berlioz had written this arrangement. He includes it in his Labitte Catalogue (the very first catalogue of his works, issued in 1846 by the publisher Jules Labitte as an appendix to the libretto of la Damnation de Faust; see Kern Holoman, Catalogue pp. 493-5), and mentions it in a letter from Vienna to Meyer of 3 December 1845: "We have just performed here in my second concert your Marche Marocaine; it was superbly performed and received warm applause. […] You have not told me whether you had received in London the score of your Marche d’Isly which I sent you via Érard. I imagine that it has reached you." (Correspondance Générale, Flammarion, vol. 3, no. 1006).
Léopold de Meyer (1816-1883) was a composer of Austrian origin and a virtuoso pianist, and Berlioz seems to have known him well. He was also a great traveller, notably in Turkey, Egypt and Algeria. Hence his piano pieces with an orientalising colour which made him famous for a time. Berlioz had orchestrated his Marche Marocaine (H 105), and this was subsequently published. He praised this piano piece in the Journal de Débats of 2 February 1845, and invited Meyer to play it at a concert given in the Cirque Olympique on 16 February 1845. On April 6 of the same year, and in the same venue, he conducted himself the first performance of the orchestral arrangement, and to judge from press reactions (le Ménestrel) it seems to have been a success. The orchestral arrangement entitled Marche d’Isly followed not long after, near the end of 1845, and may have been prompted by the success of this first piece. The original piano work by Meyer was apparently written to commemorate a French military victory in North Africa at the battle of Isly. It will be noted that Berlioz modifies the original title, Marche triomphale d’Isly, of the piano version. He did not conduct his own arrangement, but it was performed in his own lifetime in New York and Philadelphia, in October and November 1846. The score may have reached the United States via Meyer, who had visited the country not long before this; in New York the work was announced as ‘expressly arranged by the celebrated Berlioz in Paris’. It is known that Berlioz was tempted by the thought of concert visits to the United States (in 1852, 1857 and 1867) and that he was in touch with concert organisers in that country. The sending of this piece may have been intended as a kind of curtain-raiser.
A manuscript of an orchestrated version of the Marche d’Isly is extant in the hand of a copyist, and is presently in the library of the Opéra de Paris. It bears the inventory number Rés. 567. It was apparently donated to this library in 1913, according to the inventory, and seems to emanate from ‘Mme Filliaux Tiger’ (a name deciphered from a manuscript signature found on what is now the first page). It comes in the form of an album with cardboard binding of 41 pages. The cover has a white label stuck on it, cut out in the shape of a coat of arms, with on top a stamp with the mark ‘LEOPOLD DE MEYER’ around the drawing of a lyre, and at the bottom, written in a fine hand the words partly in English: ‘Marche D’Isly / Partiture / Composed by L. De Meyer’. Inside the album, the first page, almost certainly a cover page, was apparently torn or cut out. In the actual manuscript there are also variant readings or additions written in different hands, in ink (lines or supplementary parts, which according to Kern Holoman in his Catalogue p. 274 could be by Meyer himself), and sometimes in pencil (they are rather like corrections, at specific places in the score, and, still according to Holoman, could this time be by Berlioz).
There are some indications that this is the version by Berlioz: the hand of the copyist, Pierre-Aimable Rocquemont, according to Holoman, a regular copyist for Berlioz and who was working for him precisely at this period; the very title of the piece, Marche d’Isly (on the title page), which is the one adopted by Berlioz; the note in English on the cover, which might confirm a passage through the United States. The question may also be raised: if this orchestration is not by Berlioz, who else might be responsible for it? After Berlioz had orchestrated the piece it is hard to imagine an attempt by another musician to compete with the acknowledged master of orchestration. Meyer himself is unlikely to be the author, as he apparently did not write for orchestra, and the title of the piece is not the one originally given by Meyer to his work. The fact that this document was given, and late in the day, to the Opéra, a prestigious musical institution in Paris, might be an indication of a homage (from Madame Filliaux Tiger? with a partly English name, derived from the United States?) due to a great composer in Paris.
Given these uncertainties the NBE opted not to include the score (see the Foreword by Ian Rumbold, volume 22 b, p. VIII and n. 3). But the question remains. Be that as it may, the score has not to our knowledge ever been published previously.
Marche d’Isly (full score), and Marche Triomphale d’Isly (original piano score, both notated by Michel Austin)
See also the technical notes by Michel Austin on a separate page
These two arrangements after the composer of the imperial Russian chapel Dimitri Bortniansky (1751-1825) are found in an edition published thanks to Berlioz by Richault in 1851. The contract was signed on 29 September 1850, and for this publication Berlioz received the sum of 100 francs. The published scores bear the description: ‘Chorus for 4 parts without accompaniment. Latin words by Mr. B.*** Music by Bortniansky.’ for the Chant des chérubins and: ‘Chorus for 4 parts without accompaniment by Bortniansky. Latin words adapted to the music by Mr. B***’, for the Pater noster. Thus in both cases Berlioz was only claiming to have written the transposition of the words into Latin. He conducted himself these pieces in concerts, both before and after their publication, notably at the head of the Philharmonic Society which he had founded at that time.
What is the exact part of Berlioz in these arrangements? That he did not put his own name in the Richault edition does not strictly speaking prove anything: this may have been pure modesty on his part, and his way of staying in the background behind the composer (his scruples on this subject are well known). The new words may in themselves have caused some adaptations in the vocal parts. Were XVIIIth century Russian choruses written for four parts? (It should be remembered that Czar Nicholas I asked Berlioz in 1843 to arrange ‘the sixteen-part plainsongs of the Greek church for quadruple chorus’. The work might be a sequel to this commission). Questions like these remain in suspense.
The old Berlioz edition published by Breitkopf under the direction of Felix Weingartner and Charles Malherbe opted to publish these works (though the title Chant des chérubins was changed to Adoremus). Kern Holoman in his Catalogue saw no problem in listing them (H 122 and H 123). But the New Berlioz Edition by Bärenreiter, in volume 22b devoted to arrangements and edited by Ian Rumbold, has excluded them [p. VIII n. 1], whereas the NBE published the arrangements of Orphée and Alceste: are these Bortniansky pieces less by Berlioz than his arrangements of Gluck?
Where does the truth lie? To reach a conclusive answer it would be necessary to make a comparison with Bortniansky’s original (which Rumbold seems not to have done, since he nowhere mentions it in his Foreword). The present publication on the Hector Berlioz Website at least makes it possible to open the debate.
Chant des Chérubins (score, notated by Michel Austin)
— Score in large format
Pater Noster (score, notated by Michel Austin)
— Score in large format
[Waltz sung by the wind in the chimneys of one of my castles in Spain]
This waltz (listed as H 131 in Holoman’s Catalogue) was written by Berlioz in the album of Princess Marie Sayn-Wittgenstein, the daughter of Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, Liszt’s companion and the dedicatee of Les Troyens. These two album leaves are signed and dated from Weimar, 18 February 1855. Berlioz went to Weimar in February 1855 to conduct two concerts. On the 18th he attended a birthday lunch given by Marie who was celebrating her 18th year.
The album contains in addition various pages of scores, mainly from Liszt but also from Wagner, Smetana, Hans von Bülow, Anton Rubinstein, Carl Tausig, Joseph Joachim and Pauline Garcia-Viardot, who were all acquaintances and friends of Liszt and Carolyne. The document was for a long time in the possession of the Louis Koch private collection in Basel. It is now in the Foundation Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Goethe und Schiller-Archiv (reference GSA 60/Z 170). This is the source of the manuscript which we are reproducing and of the score which is transcribed here with the permission of the Goethe und Schiller-Archiv, Weimar, who hold the exclusive copyright of this work.
This score has apparently never been published, except in a partial form. Unaccountably only the first three bars are reproduced in volume 21 of the NBE (pp. XI and 97).
Valse chantée par le vent... (score, notated by Michel Austin; and see some further remarks also by Michel Austin on a separate page)
Valse chantée par le vent... (image of the original document)
See also on this site:
Le Pou et l’Araignée (The Lice and the Spider)
The Hector Berlioz Website was created on 18 July 1997 by Michel Austin and Monir Tayeb; this page was created on 16 June 2007.
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