Maxime's Retour des Cendres: The Reburial of Napoleon
Marche heroique - Fromental Halevy

Retour des Cendres: The Reburial of Napoleon

Haley, Marche Heroique
Adolphe Adam, Marche Funèbre
Daniel Auber, Marche Funebre

The Musical World, 2 July 1840

NAPOLEON's FUNERAL.—(From our own Correspondent.)—A trial was made on Sunday last at the Paris Conservatoire, of the new trumpets, thirty in number, constructed by Schiltz on a novel model of extraordinary dimensions and power, expressly for the solemn pageant and interment of Napoleon's remains. The instruments were found to possess very great capabilities of expression and compass, and the effect produced by them surpassed the expectations of the numerous professors and amateurs assembled on the occasion. Halevy has been engaged to compose a Funeral March, to be executed by a hundred and fifty performers, who will accompany the pageant in its course up the Seine, from Rouen to Courbevoie; there, a new band of two hundred performers, with a solemn March by Auber, will accompany the procession to the capital. Berlioz's Dirge, executed by the united bands of the several regiments of the line, and of the National Guards of Paris, amounting, perhaps, to three or four hundred instruments, will conduct the cortège to the chapel of the Invalides, where a new Requiem, by the veteran Cherubini, supported by the band and chorus of the Academie Royale, in addition to the choirs of Notre Dame and various other churches, will consign the honoured remains to their very appropriate resting-place, and conclude the interesting ceremonial. ... The French government has awarded most liberal remunerations to the several composers and artists engaged, and the whole affair promises to be at once a national tribute and a national honour. — Hotel de Nanta, Place Carousel, Paris.

The Musical World, 13 October 1840

Rossini is at length roused from his slumbers, and is at present occupied in a religious composition—a solemn march—which is to be played at the funeral procession of Napoleon's remains.

The Musical World, 16 December 1840

PARIS. “ (From our own Correspondent.) — Napoleon's funeral, which formed, perhaps, the most important and interesting spectacle ever witnessed, even in Paris, the show-box of Europe, was solemnized on the 15th inst.,with entire satisfaction to all persons, parties, and factions, of the divided and subdivided population, who deserted their domiciles from sunrise to sunset of one of the coldest days ever experienced in the French metropolis, and massed the entire road through which the pageant had to stem its way, to the number of at least seven hundred thousand souls. It had been announced that Cherubini was to furnish a new service for the interment of his former patron, and musical curiosity was awakened by the hope of enjoying a production, to which it was naturally expected the veteran composer would lend all his great talent inspired by grateful recollections of past times and deeds which have never ceased to be cherished by him. I know not the why nor the wherefore, but the sublime Requiem of Mozart was performed on the occasion, and executed in a style so unequivocally excellent as to satisfy the most fastidious musical critics; yet the Parisian monde, ever voluble in their little patriotism, are somewhat disposed to cavil at the substitution; and it must be owned that the characteristics of the Requiem are of too profound and touching a nature for the conclusion of a solemnity which, throughout its progress, and through all France, assumed the character of a great national triumph rather than a funeral ceremony. The circumstance of the rites having been previously performed, and the lapse of years since the decease of Napoleon, naturally took from the proceedings that religious awe and moral conviction usual at the obsequies of the great thus “vanquished by the universal leveller.”—Mozart himself, had he been alive, would assuredly have considered his immortal work inappropriate; and I think it is to be regretted that so grand an occasion should not have thrown open competition, not only to the limits of French talent, but to the genius of Europe --for genius has a native home wherever it journeys— it is to be regretted that the present age should not have furnished throughout, this tribute to the past, and celebrated by a musical ovation the final honours paid to one whose whole life was an epic poem—whose history affords but one event of touching interest—his death.—Hotel de Nantz, 16th Dec. 1840.

The Musical World, 17 December 1840

Napoleon's FUNERAL .— The choir engaged for the requiem, at the Chapel of the lnvalides, surpasses that of any previous celebration. In addition to the choristers of the various episcopal establishments of Paris, and the chorus singers of the Academie Royale, Opera Italienne, and Salle Favart, the following principal vocalists give their assistance : Soprani—Grisi, Persiani, Cinti Damoreau, and Dorus Gras; Contralti—Garcia Viardet, Eugenie Garcia, Albertazzi, and Stolz; Tenori—Rubini, Duprez, Alexis Dupont, and Masset; Bassi—Lablache, Tamburini, Lavasseur, and Alizard. This very strong list, together with the orchestras of the three lyric theatres, form a constellation not easily equalled in Europe, and worthy to participate in the most solemn ceremonial of modern times.

The Musical Quarterly, vol.7, no. 4, Oct. 1921

J.-G Prod'homme and Frederick H. Martens, "Napoleon, Music and Musicians," in The Musical Quarterly, vol.7, no. 4, Oct. 1921, pp. 579-605

The government of Louis-Philippe had first thought of having Cherubini's Requiem sung at the ceremony at the Invalides, but remembering that it had been written for the funeral of Louis XVIII, decided that Mozart's would be a more fitting choice. Three hundred executants were gathered at the Invalides on December 15, and each of the solo parts was sung by four of the greatest artists in Paris: Mmes. Grisi, Damoreau, Persiani and Dorus, sopranos; Pauline Garcia, Eugenie Garcia, Albertazzi, and Stolz, contraltos; Rubini, Duprez, Ponchard, Alexis Dupont and Nasset, tenors; and Lablache Tamburini, Levasseur, Baroil- het and Alizard, basses. Adolphe Adam, in a letter written December 25, to his Berlin friend Spiker, remarked:

Never has this master-piece by Mozart been sung with such bril- liancy. The dress rehearsal was held at the Opera, before an immense assembly of people and caused a tremendous sensation. After the mass the three funeral marches composed by Auber, Halevy and myself were played, and on this occasion I had the pleasure of triumphing over my two illustrious rivals. Auber's march made no impression whatever; that of Halevy was judged to be a fine symphonic composition, lacking the character demanded by the occasion. My own was more fortunate:
I had written it in two sections, one funereal, and the other triumphant; and this contrast was perfectly grasped by the public, which understood as well as I did, that this funeral, taking place twenty years after the hero's death, should be a triumph.

The day of the ceremony, together with my two hundred musicians, I went to Neuilly, where Napoleon's casket was to be disembarked, to conduct these marches. Unfortunately, the cold was so excessive that the artists and their instruments were frozen, and the performance was a very defective one. During the entire progress of the procession, the musicians played my march and that of Auber. Halevy's march could not be played, because his symphony was too difficult to execute, and not sufficiently rhythmic to allow it to be marched to.

Berlioz, who had been set aside in this ceremony, would not admit that his Requiem, sung two years before in that very chapel of the Invalides, had not been required of him. He is even said to have refused to compose a funeral march leaving it to Auber, Halevy and Adam, to "break their necks on his Apotheose de juillet," given during the past summer. "0, my divine Emperor!" he cries, after the ceremony at the Invalides, "What a pitiable reception was accorded you! My tears froze on my lashes for shame rather than cold ... The Mozart Requiem made a sorry enough impression, for despite the fact that it is a master-piece it was not cast in the proportions which such a ceremony demanded."

There was also in Paris, at this same time, a young German musician, who was present at the funeral of Napoleon, at the moment when the processional entered the Invalides, on that glacial Tuesday afternoon, December 15, 1840. His name was Richard Wagner.


Haley, Marche Heroique
Adolphe Adam, Marche Funèbre
Daniel Auber, Marche Funebre