Tone Poem Tuesday

French composer Charles Gounod is probably the closest thing Hector Berlioz had to a successor in the musical world; Berlioz was too much the iconoclast to really found a “school” of composition reflective of his own thought. Gounod, however, counted Berlioz among his influences. Gounod was prolific and wrote a great deal of fine music, especially his operas–but for the most part, except for his operas Faust and Romeo et Juliette, Gounod is not much heard anymore. The apotheosis of French music was to come not in late Romanticism but in Impressionism.

When I was in high school, our band briefly toyed with the Grand March from Gounod’s opera The Queen of Sheba. Operatic grand marches are a particular delight, and this one is as grand as any. If memory serves we ended up putting this piece aside when the band director, Mr. Roosa, resigned suddenly mid-year and we ended up being rudderless as a band until a fresh face out of college, Mr. Fancher, arrived to take over in the last few months of my high school career. I remember that this Grand March was not much to his liking, and out it went. Pity, that…the trumpets have some really fun things to do in this piece.

Here’s the Grand March from The Queen of Sheba.


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