Funeral March Analysis

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Funeral March
From Funeral and Triumphal Symphony
A. R.Binkley The Funeral and Triumphal Symphony was commissioned of Hector Berlioz by the
French government in 1840 for the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution. It was originally written for a marching band, but parts were later written for strings and a choir. The symphony has three movements. The first, Funeral March, is played during the procession to the memorial. The second, Funeral Sermon, is played during the dedication and the third, Apotheose, is played at the end of the ceremony. While no program accompanied the symphony, each piece suggests a narrative. Funeral March depicts grief and regret, with a continuing search for reason and resolution. Funeral Sermon is a quiet, brooding
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It begins with a drum playing a marching cadence and brass playing a pattern against it. The high woodwinds play a lament over them which begins bitter and harsh, then withdraws to a more subdued melody only to build back up, getting higher in pitch and dynamic, as the two lines join. There is a measure of silence before the melody returns with a more hostile variation. The horns and trumpets play a syncopated rhythm which pushes the music forward in anticipation. After eight measures, the piece becomes quiet and hopeful again. The woodwinds play the same theme, but with softer dynamics and harmonies. The brass are cut out, but return one at a time, reintroducing the turmoil from before. Dynamics and pitches begin to move upward again while the harmonies get closer and more dissonant. Another build up, but longer than the first, leading to another fall, but bigger than before. The music recovers quickly and continues with a light march in the woodwinds, but is interrupted many times by a new lament in the brass. With each interruption, the music becomes more agitated until the woodwinds join the brass in their lament and resign to brooding. The cadence from the beginning is played by the trumpets, cornets, bassoons, and B♭ clarinets while the E♭ clarinets, oboes, and flutes play a variation on the original lament. This builds up in …show more content…
The orchestra becomes softer again and a new theme plays over it by the trombone and bass clarinet which is always trying to rise but always falls back. As it gets higher, it becomes more chromatic and disfigured. Through this struggle, the rest of the orchestra continues to get higher and louder, the harmonies become more complex as more instruments are added. Another sigh is put in, played by the trombone and bass clarinet as everyone else reaches the extent of their build and lets out all the emotion as mourning in the lament.
Another calm section is written with the woodwinds, but this time it does not go for as long before it falls into quiet crying while the low brass brings back the marching cadence behind them. The high brass joins the woodwinds and together they draw back into an optimistic resolution. A series of chords are played, set up in the orchestra to sound like an organ. The theme of the lament plays for the last time, but brighter and with resolution and closure. The organ plays again, at first with some bitterness, but ends mildly.
Funeral March follows the narrative of a procession and goes into the emotions of the people involved. It depicts the sorrow and rage, the swelling and releasing of these, and the attempts and failures to move forward. It ends at the grave, with the casket being lowered in and the final thoughts being

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