Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 A.D. (Part 7 of 8)


CONQUERORS OF THE AGES – Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821 A.D.)

Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815

The opening measures take us to a palatial French ballroom in the late 1790s. Follow­ing the “Marseillaise,” the first waltz theme de­picting Josephine is played by the strings. The second love theme (violin solo) portrays Napoleon’s affair with Desirce—in contrast to the deep respect he earned as soldier and statesman.

Tempo is resumed and the “Marseillaise” repeated. The snare drums lead into new campaigns for the glory of France-victory in Italy, Austria, the battle at Abukir and triumph in Egypt.

Then follow the campaigns in Bavaria, Prussia, Poland and Russia with an army of 400,000. The familiar strains of the old Russian hymn “God Preserve Our People” depict the fateful invasion of Russia and the disastrous retreat from Moscow during the cruel winter, November, 1812 (the dejection and tragedy are scored in the string basses and cellos).

After forming new armies, Napoleon achieved minor victories at Bautzen and Dresden and was defeated at the “Battle of the Nations” (August 26 and 27, 1813) at Leipzig. After his first exile to Elba in April, 1814 he returned to Paris and raised new armies only to be defeated at Waterloo, by Wellington, June 18, 1815. Wellington’s triumph is heard as a familiar British theme is played by the brass. The chorus sings the “Ages” theme and a final timpani roll with a sustained line in the string basses establishes his final exile on St. Helena. The “Little Corporal” died May 5, 1821.


Listen :


Composer: Edmond De Luca

London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Reinhard Linz


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