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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

§ I Am Music and I Pick the Songs: La Marseillaise

{Song #20 « Song #21 » Song #22}

§ ≡ One of an ongoing series of posts in which I pick, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best songs of the second millennium. Feel free to offer constructive dissenting opinions; preferably set to music.

Song #21 is La Marseillaise ("The Song of Marseille"), written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg on April 25, 1792. It is the national anthem of France.

It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and received its name because it was first sung in the streets by volunteers from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris. The song's lyrics reflect the invasion of France, which was ongoing when the song was written, by armies from Prussia and Austria. Strasbourg itself was attacked just a few days later. The invading forces were repulsed from France following the Battle of Valmy, which strategically ensured the survival of the French Revolution. As such, and despite its minor size, Valmy is one of the most decisive battles in history and marks one of the first times a mix of old soldiers and raw volunteers were able to successfully oppose the highly respected professional Prussian and Austrian armies.

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People

"When I hear this most stirring of all marshaling anthems, especially when sung on Bastille Day, it makes me want to grab my musket and go out and kill Germans." — Henri LeGrand

Post #844 § I Am Music and I Pick the Songs: La Marseillaise

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