Thursday, April 24, 2008

La bloodthirsty Marseillaise

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1792 Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760 - 1836) wrote the words to 'La Marseillaise', now the French national anthem, in a fit of patriotic excitement after a public dinner.

Its original name was 'Chant de guerre de l'Armée du Rhin' ('Marching Song of the Rhine Army') and it was dedicated to Marshall Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian-born French officer from Cham. Music was derived from 'Variazioni sulla Marsigliese per violino e orchestra', written by the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755 - 1824) eight years earlier. De Lisle's song became the rallying call of the French Revolution and got its name because it was first sung on the streets by troops (fédérés) from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris. The French Convention accepted it as the national anthem (decree passed on July 14, 1795), but 'La Marseillaise' was banned by Napoleon during the Empire, and by Louis XVIII on the Second Restoration (1815), because of its revolutionary associations.

In the 19th Century, 'La Marseillaise' was widely used in many countries as the anthem of all kinds of radical groups – socialist, anarchist, communist, and democratic – but during the early 20th Century was generally replaced in this role by 'The Internationale' which itself was originally intended to be sung to the tune of the French revolutionary song. The French anthem is still sung, although today it shocks with its delight in murder: "Let us march, Let us march! That their impure blood should water our fields".

Ironically, de Lisle was himself a royalist and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new republican constitution ...

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