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Funeral March for the last scene of Hamlet, from Tristia, no.3 (H 103 and 119B)

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    This piece is the last of a group of 3 published by Berlioz in 1852 under the collective title Tristia; the other two pieces are the Méditation Religieuse and La Mort d’Ophélie. All three works are for chorus and orchestra (though in the March the chorus is wordless). The autograph score of the March bears the date 22 September 1848, though the work was originally written late in 1844. The work shows the influence of the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (as does also the 2nd movement of Harold in Italy). Though one of his greatest works, it was never performed in Berlioz’s lifetime. The score is prefaced with a quotation from the end of Hamlet (Act V Scene II; Fortinbras speaks):

Let four captains
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov’d most royally: and for his passage
The soldier’s music, and the rites of war,
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies: – such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.

    Funeral March for the last scene of Hamlet (duration 6'20")
    — Score in large format
    (file created on 1.01.2000; revised 6.01.2001 and 4.01.2004)

© Michel Austin for all scores and text on this page.

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