Prelude to the Fighting and to the Victory on the Field of Mars
Gaspare Spontini (1774–1861)
Modern edition by David Whitwell (1937–)
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble
As a youth, Spontini studied at the Conservatorio della Pietà de’ Turchini in Naples. In 1803, he went to Paris, where he was appointed court composer in 1805.
With the encouragement of Empress Joséphine in 1807, Spontini wrote La vestale, his best known work. Its premiere at the Opéra in Paris established Spontini as one of the greatest Italian composers of his age. His contemporaries Cherubini and Meyerbeer considered it a masterpiece, as did later composers such as Berlioz and Wagner.
Among his compositions for the French Court, were the music for a “Dance Martial,” for military band. It apparently consisted of two original compositions, The Evolutions Military and the Prelude to the Fighting and to Victory on the Field of Mars.
This Prelude is of interest in part due to its musical similarity with Beethoven’s Siegessinfonie, also for band, which was composed at the same time during the Napoleonic Wars.
This edition has the same instrumentation as Spontini’s autograph score with the exception of our substitution of two bass clarinet parts for the original two Corni di Bassetto. They are really virtually the same instrument, differing only in key. We have included only the percussion parts designated by Spontini, for which he gave the overall label, Janitscharen.