"La Marseillaise" 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").
|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)
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, requested his freemason guest Rouget de Lisle 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", however 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:
- Tema e variazioni in Do maggiore, a work by the Italian violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti (composed in 1781); the dating of the manuscript has been questioned.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Allegro maestoso from the Piano Concerto No. 25 (composed in 1786). Audio of theme
- the oratorio Esther by Jean Baptiste Lucien Grison (composed in 1787). Audio of excerpts compared
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
"La Marseillaise" was arranged for soprano, chorus and orchestra by Hector Berlioz in about 1830.
Franz Liszt wrote a piano transcription of the anthem.
During World War I, bandleader James Reese Europe played a jazz version of "La Marseillaise", which can be heard on part 2 of the Ken Burns 2001 TV documentary Jazz.
Serge Gainsbourg recorded a reggae version in 1978, titled "Aux armes et cætera".
Adaptations in other musical works
- Dmitri Shostakovich quotes "La Marseillaise" at some length during the fifth reel of the film score he composed for the 1929 silent movie, The New Babylon (set during the Paris Commune), where it is juxtaposed contrapuntally with the famous "Infernal Galop" from Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld.
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky quotes "La Marseillaise" in his 1812 Overture, representing the invading French Army under Napoleon (although it was not the French national anthem at that time), and it is drowned out by cannon fire, symbolizing the Russian victory at the Battle of Borodino.
- The Beatles hit single of 1967, "All You Need Is Love", uses the opening bars of "La Marseillaise" as an introduction.
- On Simchat Torah (18–19 October) 1973, the Lubavitcher Rebbe adapted the melody to the Jewish prayer "Ha'aderet V'ha'emuna". In Chabad, the melody is believed to convey the idea of a "spiritual French revolution" – in that Torah should be spread around the world as an advent to the messianic era.
Notable use in other media
- The Brisbane Lions Australian rules football team's theme song has been set to "La Marseillaise" since 1962.
- The movie Casablanca features a scene where the German, Major Strasser, leads a group of officers in singing "Die Wacht am Rhein" ("The Watch on the Rhine"). The Resistance leader, Victor Laszlo, orders the house band to play "La Marseillaise". When the band looks to the owner Rick, he nods his head. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first, then patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans as the entire tavern sings "La Marseillaise".
- The movie Nie Er features a scene that Nie Er leads to sing "La Marseillaise" to encourage 19th Route Army soldiers to fight against Japanese invasion in Shanghai.
- The song featured in the Father Ted Christmas special "A Christmassy Ted" where it was used to make Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly) stand up in order for Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan) to free a priest that Jack was unknowingly sitting on.
Historical Russian use
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".
- "Marche Henri IV", the national anthem of the Kingdom of France
- "La Marseillaise des Blancs", the Royal and Catholic variation
- "Ça Ira", another famous anthem of the French Revolution
- "Chant du départ", the official anthem of the Napoleonic Empire
- "Belarusian Marseillaise", a patriotic song in Belarus
- "Onamo", a Montenegrin patriotic song popularly known as the "Serbian Marseillaise"
- "The Women's Marseillaise", a women's suffrage protest song
- Pronunciation: / ( ) /, MAR-sə-LAYZ, MAR-say-(Y)EZ, French: [la maʁsɛjɛːz]
- Dictionnaire Universelle de la Franc-Maçonnerie page 601 - Jode and Cara (Larousse - 2011)
- "La Marseillaise" (in French). National Assembly of France. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- Weber, Eugen (1 June 1976). Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914. Stanford University Press. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-8047-1013-8. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- Stevens, Benjamin F. (January 1896). "Story of La Marseillaise". The Musical Record. Boston, Massachusetts: Oliver Ditson Company (408): 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Plaque Frédéric De Dietrich". Archi-Wiki. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- (in French) Louis Spach, Frederic de Dietrich, premier maire de Strasbourg., Strasbourgh, Vve. Berger-Levrault & fils, 1857.
- "General François Mireur". Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Wochenblatt, dem Unterricht des Landvolks gewidmet, Colmar 1792 .
- Mould, Michael (2011). The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-136-82573-6. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Paul Halsall (1997),"La Marseillaise", Internet History Sourcebooks Project
- "La Marseillaise, un hymne à l'histoire tourmentée" by Romaric Godin, La Tribune, 20 November 2015 (in French)
- Micaela Ovale & Guilia Mazzetto. "Progetti Viotti" (PDF). Guido Rimonda (in Italian). Guido Rimonda. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
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
- La Face, Giuseppina. "La Marsigliese e il mistero attorno alla sua paternità". il fatto quotidiano. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Lot, Arthur (1886). La Marseillaise: enquête sur son véritable auteur. V. Palmé, 1886; Nouvelles Éditions Latines 1992. p. 11. ISBN 9782723304580. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
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.
- Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.. New International Encyclopedia (1st
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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.
- Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). See also Geschichte eines deutschen Liedes at German Wikisource.. The American Cyclopædia.
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- The seventh verse was not part of the original text; it was added in 1792 by an unknown author.
- William Apthorp (1879) Hector Berlioz; Selections from His Letters, and Aesthetic, Humorous, and Satirical Writings, Henry Holt, New York
- L.J. de Bekker (1909) Stokes' Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Frederick Stokes, New York
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- Described and played on BBC Radio 3's CD Review program "Building a Library: Elgar: Violin Concerto" (14 January 2012)
- Edwards, Gavin (28 August 2014). "How the Beatles' 'All You Need Is Love' Made History". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
- "The Spiritual French Revolution: A Miracle in Our Times, 5752 (1992)". Chabad.org. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
- "Origins of our Club song". Brisbane Lions. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Соболева, Н.А. 2005. Из истории отечественных государственных гимнов. Журнал "Отечественная история", 1. P.10-12 Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Bentham, Jeremy (2001). Quinn, Michael (ed.). Writings on the Poor Laws, Vol. I. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0199242320.
- Bremner, Charles (14 May 2014). "Cannes star denounces 'racist' Marseillaise at festival opening". The Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- Riding, Alan (5 March 1992). "Aux Barricades! 'La Marseillaise' Is Besieged". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- "Simon Schama explains La Marseillaise". BBC News. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Hughes, Charles (Spring 1940). "Music of the French Revolution". Science & Society. 4 (2): 193–210. JSTOR 40399324.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to La Marseillaise.|
- La Marseillaise de Rouget de Lisle – Official site of Élysée – Présidence de la République (in French)
- La Marseillaise: hymne national Official site of Assemblée nationale (in French)
- La Marseillaise, Iain Patterson's comprehensive website
- Texts on Wikisource: