About this Recording
2.110547 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - BATTLE MUSIC: Germany / England (NTSC)
English 

Battle Music
Germany • England
With music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov

 

CHAPTER 1

Kulmbach, Germany: Tin Soldier Museum / London, England: National Army Museum

The Tin Soldier Museum at the Plassenburg in Kulmbach, an amazing collection of toy soldiers and other figures, shows an army on the march. From London comes the painting of the Duke of Wellington and his generals and models of soldiers, with their colours and a drum bearing the name of King George IV. A contemporary model of the battlefield of Waterloo, in which Wellington defeated the forces of Napoleon, shows the situation at the outset of the battle.

Music Beethoven: Wellington’s Victory, Op. 91 – I. The Battle

Beethoven’s Battle Symphony was written in 1813 to celebrate Wellington’s victory over the French at the Battle of Vittoria. It was originally intended to be heard with a musical machine, invented by Mälzel, an inventor now remembered for his metronome. Mälzel’s Panharmicon was intended, with Beethoven’s music, to provide a patriotic diversion. After a quarrel with Mälzel, Beethoven adapted the work for conventional concert performance. The Battle, the first movement, includes trumpet signals for battle from both British and French armies, with Rule, Britannia and Marlborough s’en va-t-en guerre, familiarly known in English as For he’s a jolly good fellow.

CHAPTER 2

London: National Army Museum • Wellington Memorial • St Paul’s Cathedral • Waterloo Place

A number of statues and memorials commemorate Wellington and his victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. These include the Wellington Arch and a statue of the Iron Duke mounted. The Duke’s tomb is in St Paul’s Cathedral, while Waterloo place, off Pall Mall, is the site of other memorials, both to the dead in the Crimean War and to other miitary leaders. The National Army Museum contains displays of military uniforms.

Music Beethoven: Wellington’s Victory, Op. 91 – II. The Victory

The second part of Beethoven’s Battle Symphony celebrates Wellington’s victory with varied treatments of the British National Anthem, God save the King, in a work dedicated to the Prince Regent, the future King George IV.

CHAPTER 3

Kulmbach: Tin Soldier Museum – Various Fairy-Tale Scenes

The Zinnfiguren Museum at Kulmbach has a wide variety of metal figures, soldiers from many periods and countries and legendary characters. These last include Baron von Münchhausen, seen in one of his wilder flights of fancy, and fairy-tale figures that include the animal musicians of Bremen.

Music Beethoven: March No. 1 for Military Band

Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770 but settled finally in Vienna in 1792. His earlier years there coincided with the Napoleonic Wars and with periods when the imperial capital was occupied by the French. The first of two marches for military band was written in 1809 for Archduke Anton.

CHAPTER 4

Kulmbach: Tin Soldier Museum – Various Fairy-Tale Scenes

The figures seen here include Robinson Crusoe, Hansel and Gretel, with the Witch and her gingerbread house, and Little Red Riding-Hood.

Music Beethoven: March No. 2 for Military Band Beethoven’s second march for military band was also intended for Archduke Anton, and was heard at a military celebration at Laxenburg in 1810.

CHAPTER 5

Kulmbach: Tin Soldier Museum – Siege of Kulmbach and Plassenburg, 1553

The models and vivid and detailed dioramas in the Plassenburg at Kulmbach include a representation of the siege of Kulmbach and Plassenburg in 1553 during the Margrave Wars, culminating the following year in the destruction of the town and the castle. The place was later rebuilt under the Margrave Georg Friedrich von Ansbach.

Music Liszt: Hungarian Attack March

Born in Hungary, Liszt established his reputation first in Paris, settling in Weimar in 1847 and finally in Rome in 1861. For Hungarians he became something of a national hero and Hungarian elements recur in his music. His Second Hungarian March, the Ungarischer Sturmmarsch (Hungarian Attack March) was written in 1843 for the piano and arranged for orchestra in 1875, making use of the Hungarian cimbalom or zither.

CHAPTER 6

Ingolstadt, Germany: Bavarian Army Museum – Turkish Battles and Uniforms

There were intermittent wars over the years between the Hapsburgs and the Ottoman Empire, with an assault on Central Europe in 1664 under Sultan Mohammed IV. It was in 1683, however, that Vienna itself was under siege by the forces of the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, the city only saved by the intervention of the Polish king, Jan Sobieski. The battle for Vienna is seen in an elaborate painting by Pierre Martin. Other relics of the Turkish wars include the tent of the Grand Vizier Suleyman, retrieved after a battle near Mohacs in 1687.

Music Liszt: Battle of the Huns

Liszt’s symphonic poem Die Hunnenschlacht (The Battle of the Huns) was based on a mural by Wilhelm von Kaulbach representing the great battle, in the 5th century, between Attila and his Huns and the Roman Emperor Theodoric. The chorale Crux fidelis is heard, representing the Christian victory.

CHAPTER 7

Ingolstadt: Bavarian Army Museum – Spring Parade on the Oberwiesenfeld 1886 and Uniforms

The historical painter Louis Braun shows Prince Luitpold, Regent of Bavaria, at the Spring Parade on the Munich Oberwiesenfeld. The Prince had assumed the regency as Ludwig II became increasingly incapacitated, his mental instability leading to his mysterious death. Braun provides a vivid record of the Spring Parade and the assembly of officers.

Music Ippolitov-Ivanov: Georgian War March

The Russian composer Ippolitov-Ivanov spent a number of years in Georgia, in later years continuing to draw on the music of the region. He continued to explore the remoter and more exotic regions of the Soviet Union until his death in Moscow in 1935.

CHAPTER 8

Ingolstadt: Bavarian Army Museum – Black Cavalry Armour of the Early 17th Century • The Battle of Prague

The Bavarian Army Museum at Ingolstadt holds a remarkable display of armour, including the menacing black armour that recalls the devastating campaigns of the Thirty Years War. A painting recalls the Battle of Prague from the same period.

Music Rimsky-Korsakov: Le coq d’or – King Dodon on the Battlefield

Rimsky-Korsakov’s last opera, The Golden Cockerel, was a controversial satire on the conduct of the Russo-Japanese War, and earned the composer official displeasure. Completed in 1907, the opera was performed only in 1909, after Rimsky-Korsakov’s death. Based on Pushkin, the plot concerns old King Dodon and the Astrologer’s gift of a Golden Cockerel that crows at the hint of danger. When his sons are defeated in battle, the King goes to war himself, but is deterred from his projected attack by the appearance of a mysterious Queen, who becomes his wife, the cause of later disaster.

CHAPTER 9

Ingolstadt: Bavarian Army Museum – Weapons of the Wittelsbach Noble Guard • The Battle of Prague

The Wittelsbach family was possibly the most powerful German dynasty, ruling Bavaria, but also assuming ruling positions elsewhere in Europe. The Bavarian Army Museum has a display of battle-axes and other weapons of the Wittelsbach Noble Guard. The Battle of the White Mountain, near Prague in 1620, brought the overwhelming victory of the Hapsburg Ferdinand II over the Protestant nobles of Prague and their followers, establishing Hapsburg rule over Bohemia that was to last for centuries.

Music Rimsky-Korsakov: Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh – Massacre at Kerzhenets

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya was completed in 1905 and first staged in Moscow in 1907. The battle of Kerzhenets, from the third act of the opera, represents the conflict between the soldiers of Kitezh, a city granted invisibility through the prayers of Fevroniya, and the Tartars, who had taken Fevroniya, wife of Prince Vsevolod, prisoner.

Keith Anderson

 

Recording (all works):

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ondrej Lenárd [Naxos 8.550230]


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