Hector Berlioz

Marche de Rákóczy (Rákóczy March), for orchestra (Le damnation de Faust), H. 109

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    At the beginning of 1846, Berlioz was in Vienna. Following a farewell concert on January 11th, with the virtuoso Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst taking the viola solo in Harold en Italie, the intendant of the Hungarian National Theater, Count Ráday, suggested to Berlioz that if he wished to score a success in Pesth, which Berlioz was to visit, he should arrange the national Hungarian air, Rákóczy-induló, or Rákóczy march. Locked into the forced marriage of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Hungarians were seething with anti-Austrian sentiment, and Berlioz was, after all, from a nation which had seen two revolutions within living memory and was, moreover, widely regarded -- if in a somewhat different sense -- as the most revolutionary of living composers.

    He sketched the march the evening before leaving Vienna and completed it upon his arrival in Pesth. It was included in his first concert there, given on February 15, a Sunday morning, with the Roman Carnival Overture, movements from the Symphonie fantastique, and Harold en Italie. Wisely, Berlioz reserved it for last. An open letter to his friend, Humbert Ferrand, included in his Memoirs, describes with inimitable verve one of the most stupendous successes of his career. Before the concert, a newspaper editor, one M. Horváth, after examining Berlioz's arrangement of the Rákóczy air as it lay beneath the hand of the copyist, presented himself to the composer. "Well?" Berlioz asked. "Well -- I'm nervous...You state the theme piano. We, on the contrary, are accustomed to hearing it played fortissimo." With the serene assurance of the great master depicted in August Prinzhofer's pair of oft-reproduced engravings, made just weeks before, Berlioz replied, "Don't worry, you shall have such a forte as you have never heard in your life." Indeed, after a fanfare, the theme is announced by flutes and clarinets, set off by string pizzicati, and repeated several times with suspenseful alternations of loud and soft until, as Berlioz writes, "a long crescendo...with fragments of the theme reintroduced fugally, broken by the dull thud of the bass drum, like the thump of distant cannon...." The excitement was palpable and electric, and "as the orchestra unleashed its full fury and the long-delayed fortissimo burst forth, a tumult of shouting and stamping convulsed the theater...." The piece had to be repeated, to even greater excitement. During his central European tour, Berlioz had begun the composition of La Damnation de Faust. With his arrangement of the Rákóczy air such a superbly accomplished fact, he did not hesitate to designate its opening scene as "the plains of Hungary," and to have Faust, like Hamlet, view troops passing to the strains of the Rákóczy March, for which he added a more elaborate coda. The autograph score was purchased by Count Casimir Batthianyi for 500 francs.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 CuGate Classics CGC 004
    2015 K-Tel 136446
    2013 Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records PLSCD 251
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099972328
    2013 Sony Classical 88883710032
    2012 Dynamic 3580
    2012 Excalibur EXRCD 617
    2012 Regent REGCD 384
    2012 K-Tel 55847
    2011 Sanctuary Records
    2011 Red Bus Classical RCLAS 040
    2011 Document / Membran 223548321
    2011 Challenge Classics CC72383
    2010 Alto / Musical Concepts 1064
    2010 Ivory Classics 79003
    2010 Denon Records
    2009 Altissimo 60262
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Ars Produktion 38402
    2008 Hungaroton HCD 10331
    2008 Altissimo 55882
    2008 Madacy 52955
    2006 Fono 1203
    2006 Hungaroton HCD 32459
    2005 Madacy 50798
    2005 Mercury 4756622
    2005 Crimson Productions 240
    2004 Walking Frog Records 306
    2004 Delta Distribution 16406
    2004 Haenssler 98361
    2003 BBC Music 4112
    2003 Chesky Records 245
    2003 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 40044
    2003 Music & Arts 4614
    2003 Opus KURA 2036
    2002 St. Clair 3099
    2002 Hungaroton 32074/7
    2002 Golden Melodram 40062
    2002 Fono Enterprise 1047
    2002 Priory Records 794
    2002 Andante AND2966
    2001 Bescol 72
    2001 Castle Pulse / Pulse PLSCD 251
    2001 Legacy Entertainment CBX001
    2001 Hungaroton Echo Collection 1055
    2001 Bandleader 7
    2001 Naxos 8-555811
    2001 Pearl 0139
    2000 Decca 466241
    2000 Bandleader 5160
    2000 Amadis 7158
    2000 Delta Distribution 24474
    2000 Platinum Disc / Platinum Entertainment 627
    2000 Rene Gailly 87130
    2000 Platinum Entertainment 1729
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 66598
    2000 Bandleader 8005
    2000 Teldec 28407
    2000 Malibran Music 141
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 574 025-2
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 72434
    2000 Tring 030
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 506
    1999 Madacy 8422
    1999 Platinum Disc / Platinum Entertainment 1980
    1999 Bandleader 5151
    1999 Aura Classics 0120
    1999 Platinum Entertainment 1401
    1999 IDIS 272/3
    1998 Valois 4836
    1998 Delta Distribution 11535
    1998 Intersound 2835
    1998 Simply The Best 70332
    1998 Haenssler 98952
    1998 DG Deutsche Grammophon 457444
    1998 London 460496
    1997 Laserlight 24435
    1997 Naxos 8 553596
    1997 Sony Classical 63154
    1997 HR-Musik 70062
    1997 Everest 9047
    1997 Hyperion CDA66978
    1997 Naxos 556678
    1996 Symposium 1189
    1996 Magic Talent 48015
    1996 Nesak International 10003
    1996 Vox 8828
    1995 Madacy 5650
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 68431
    1995 Grammofono 2000 78586
    1995 Vox 8516
    1995 Dutton Laboratories CDK1200
    1994 RCA Victor 62698
    1994 Madacy 2340
    1994 Naxos 550231
    1994 Vox 8772
    1994 Madacy 0500
    1994 Naxos 550008
    1994 Naxos 504003
    1994 Naxos 550142
    1994 Sony Classical 66710
    1994 Laserlight 14148
    1994 Laserlight 15848
    1994 Laserlight 15938
    1994 Naxos 550003
    1994 Madacy 5429
    1993 Mercury 434328
    1993 RCA 61249
    1993 ASV 2064
    1992 RCA 60322
    1992 Sony Music Distribution SMK-47525
    1991 Laserlight 15667
    1991 BMG 60835
    1991 RCA 60838-2-RG
    1990 RCA 60700
    1990 Laserlight 15510
    Reader's Digest Music 068
    Madacy 3660
    RCA 60315
    RCA Victor 61894
    Bescol 520
    Masters of the Millennium 2019
    Sony Music Distribution 46709
    Seraphim UK 569588-2
    RCA Victor Red Seal 7116
    Going For A Song 461
    EMI Music Distribution 4584
    Naxos 8 550035/6
    Naxos 506005
    EXL 5207
    As Disc 542
    Koch 7073
    EXL 4301
    Excelsior Recordings 5254
    RCA 57716
    Vox 5132
    Cypress 2004
    Phonographe 5025
    Magic Master 37022
    RCA Victrola 7881
    Vox 8767
    CBS Records Masterworks 45734
    Klavier Records 11029
    EMI Angel / EMI Music Distribution 69231
    RCA 60937
    Alfa 1005
    RPO 5006
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 469 238-2GP2
    RCA Victor 61893
    London 411954
    Rainbow Media OMP 5560
    Excelsior Recordings 5341
    Mark Custom Recording 4799
    Madacy 4558
    Bescol 501
    Madacy 52957
    Nesak International 17000