BATTLE MUSIC (Gunter Appenheimer/ Ondrej Lenard/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.550230)
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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Battle Symphony Opus 91
(Wellingtons Sieg oder Die Schlacht bei Vittoria)
Two Marches for Military Band
Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Hungarian Attack March
Battle of the Huns
Mikhail Mikhaylovich Ippolitov-lIanov(1859 - 1935)
Georgian War March (from Iveria
Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov(1844 - 1908)
King Dodon on the Battlefield (from The Golden Cockerel)
Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov(1844 - 1908)
Massacre at Kerzhentz (from Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh)
Robert Volkmann (1815 - 1883)
(Overture) Richard III
Pyotr lI'yich Tchaikovsky (1840 -1893)
Battle of Poltava (from Mazeppa)
Music has a long and close associationwith warfare, whether in imitation, celebration or, as in Marco Polo's China, to strikefear into the heart of the enemy, a function apparently echoed by some orchestras today.
Beethoven's much maligned Battle Symphony, Wellington'sVictory or the Battle of Vittoria,is a piece of programme music, topical at the time of its composition in 1813, the year ofthe victory of the Duke of Wellington over the forces of Napoleon at Vittoria, anddesigned for a newly invented machine, the Panharmonicon. The inventor Malzel, Viennacourt mechanician and later developer of the new pendulum metronome, had designed hismachine on the lines of the traditional music-box, and planned Beethoven's addition to itsrepertoire as a further patriotic attraction. Circumstances led to a change of plan, andBeethoven was asked to orchestrate the work, free of the technical restrictions imposed bythe Panharmonicon, for use in a charity concert in aid of those wounded at the battle ofHanau. The first performance of a work that won immediate popularity with the public wason 12th November in a programme that included, for the connoisseurs, the first performanceof Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, followed byMalzel's Mechanical Trumpeter, withaccompaniment by Dussek and by Pleyel. The event, intended to raise money also for theexpenses of Malzel and Beethoven in a planned journey to London, was important in drawingpublic attention to Beethoven and, at the second performance in December, raising moremoney. Beethoven quarrelled with Malzel over the attribution of the piece, and the latterdrew little advantage from the affair, and no credit for his part in planning the outlineof the Battle Symphony, which Beethoven usedfor his sole profit in a third concert in January 1814. The work includes trumpet signalsfor battle from the English and French armies, RuleBritannia, Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre, (otherwise known as For he's a jolly good fellow), gun-fire and a fuguebased on God Save the King, and wasdedicated to the Prince Regent, later George IV of England, in an effort by Beethoven toanticipate Malzel's arrival in London and deprive him of any possible credit in thematter, which became a matter of litigation. The two Beethoven marches, characteristic ofthe mood and idiom of the time, were written in 1809 and 1810 for Archduke Anton.
Liszt's Second Hungarian march, the so-called Ungarischer Sturmmarsch, was originally written forthe piano in 1843 and arranged for orchestra in 1875, making use of the Hungarian cimbalomin an emotively patriotic Hungarian context. The symphonic poem Die Hunnenschlacht, the Battle of the Huns, waswritten in 1857, one of the series of orchestral works in which Liszt, settled in Weimaras Director of Music Extraordinary to the Grand Duchy, sought to translate into musicalterms what one hostile critic described as the greatest productions of the human mind, aprocess that the same critic, Eduard Hanslick, found both impertinent and objectionable.
The origin of Die Hunnenschlacht was a muralby Wilhelm von Kaulbach representing the great fifth century battle between Attila and hisHuns and the Roman Ernperor Theodoric, the chorale Cruxfidelis representing the Christian victory.
The Russian composer Ippolitov-Ivanov,a graduate of Moscow Conservatory, spent a number of years in Georgia, an area the musicof which he drew on in later life, after his return to Moscow, where he died in 1935. Hispreoccupation with the relatively exotic music of remoter republics in the Soviet Unionand her neighbours continued an earlier tradition followed by nationalist composers suchas Rimsky-Korsakov, whose exotic opera The GoldenCockerel, a controversial satire on the conduct of the Russo-Japanese war thatearned him official displeasure, was completed in 1907, published in 1908 and onlyperformed in Moscow in 1909, after the composer's death. Based on Pushkin, the plotconcerns old King Dodon and the Astrologer's gift of a Golden Cockerel that crows at ahint of danger. When his sons are defeated in battle, the King goes to war himself, but isdeterred from his projected attack by the appearance of a mysterious Queen, of whom he haddreamed, and who becomes his wife. She and the Golden Cockerel disappear, after the latterhas killed the King, payment for his harsh treatment of the Astrologer, whom he haskilled.
Rimsky-Korsakovs' Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya was completed in 1905 and firststaged in Moscow in 1907. The battle of Kherzenetz,frorn 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 hadtaken Fevroniya, wife of Prince Vsevolod, prisoner.
The plays of Shakespeare have providedcomposers and librettists with a ready source for opera and incidental music. Richard IIIhas proved a less popular subject than many, with only two later 19th century fulloperatic settings by minor composers. The Dresden composer Robert Volkmann, who died inBudapest in 1883 after spending some 35 years in the city, wrote incidental music for theplay and a concert overture. Shakespeare's play ends with the battle of Bosworth at whichRichard was defeated by Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII. The musical content of theoverture makes its own surprising suggestion as to the national origin of some of thesoldiery involved described by Shakespeare's hunchback King as "these bastardBretons'.
Tchaikovsky based his opera Mazeppa, completed in 1883, on Pushkin's Poltava. The old hetman Mazeppa marries hisgoddaughter Mariya, the match opposed by the girl's father, who denounces Mazeppa to theTsar as a traitor, but is not believed and handed back, a prisoner, to his son-in-law, tobe put to death. The third act is introduced by music representing the battle of Poltava,in which Mazeppa, who has sided with Sweden against the Tsar, in the hope of establishingthe independence of the Ukraine, has been defeated, later to meet again his young wifeMariya, who has heard of her father's cruel death and is now out of her mind. The battlesymphonic tableau includes the hymn of the victorious army of Peter the Great, and therout of the forces of Charles XII.
Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratislava)
The Czechoslovak Radio SymphonyOrchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 atthe instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in the sphere ofmusic. The orchestra was first conducted by the Pra