Donald Macleod explores Cherubini's extraordinary political flexibility - which was an essential survival skill in post-revolutionary France. With Marche Funebre; Requiem (1816).
Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the music and life of Luigi Cherubini with a look of his extraordinary political flexibility - an essential survival skill in the looking-glass world of post-Revolutionary France. His Marche Funèbre is a case in point. Written in 1820 to commemorate the passing of the Duc du Berry, the second son of the man who four years later would become Charles X of France, this sombre march, so full of grief for its dedicatee, had had a previous incarnation, some 23 years earlier, as part of a funeral cantata on the death of Général Hoche - a French soldier who had risen to be General of the Revolutionary Army. And the composer who wrote his C minor Requiem to mourn the anniversary in 1816 of the execution of Louis XVI doubtless wouldn't have wished his aristocratic friends to be reminded that 20 years earlier he had conducted the choir at an official ceremony to celebrate the third anniversary of the demise of the same monarch. But such considerations didn't prevent Beethoven, Berlioz, Schumann and Brahms from regarding Cherubini's Requiem in C minor as best-in-class; and it even provided the soundtrack to Beethoven's funeral in 1827.