Marchons – Marchons: Musical world of marches part II

Punch Howarth

Part I of this essay on marches covered their history, military and circus marches and before going on, the title above needs explanation. Marchons-Marchons starts the chorus of a song by Rouget de Lisle that became musically the greatest of all national anthems, the March La Marseillaise and was arranged for orchestra by Berlioz.

Ceremonial marches are of two types: for weddings and funerals. The function of the former is to get the bride and groom up and down the aisle so again there are two forms. First is to get the bride to the area of the ceremony and calls for a stately piece of music and most commonly is Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from his Opera Lohengrin. Some others are Trumpet Voluntary of Clarke and Pachelbel’s Canon. To get the newlyweds up the aisle afterwards there are two used most commonly: Mendelssohn’s happy Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream and the dramatic organ Toccata by Widor. Funeral marches are rarely performed at funerals except when there is a street procession or a Mass. Some of the more famous are Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 Marcia Funebre, Siegfried’s by Wagner, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Handel’s and Chopin’s Funeral Marches and Requiems by Verdi and Faure.

Another type of Ceremonial Marche is for graduations and convocations and called Processionals Marches. The most common is Pomp and Circumstance No. 1 by Elgar (he composed four) and is known in England as Land of Hope and Glory. Two others are Meyerbeer’s Coronation March and Walton’s Crown Imperial.

Concert Marches are the final body to elucidate and bring this essay to a finale. There are two types: for Concert Band and for Symphony Orchestra.

Many for band are transcriptions of symphonic works, i.e. Rossini. However in the 20th Century composers like Goldman, Coates and Fucik added many new concert marches for band. Most concert bands in the U.S. are at universities and high schools. For Orchestra there are a multitude of works in this genre and to list a few there are Beethoven’s Turkish Marches, Love for Three Oranges by Prokofiev, Gounod’s Funeral March for a Marionette, Egyptian and Radetsky Marches by the Strousses and several of Mahler’s symphonies have marches.

For information about next season’s programs by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra go to and any comments the reader might have about these essays contact me at [email protected].