Apothéose from "Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale"

From Wind Repertory Project
Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz (tr. McMahan)

This work bears the designation Opus 15.

General Info

Year: 1840 / 2014
Duration: c. 9:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II (II divisi)
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (optional)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone (optional)
Eb Baritone Saxophone (optional)
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drums (2)
  • Turkish crescent

STB Choir (optional)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The symphony was a commission by the French government to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution which had brought Louis-Philippe to power, by erecting the July Column in the place de la Bastille, Paris. Berlioz had little sympathy for the régime, but he accepted the opportunity to write the work which brought him a payment of 10,000 francs. The Symphonie militaire (later renamed Symphonie funébre et triomphale), far from being a successor to Romeo and Juliet, represents a reversion to an earlier, pre-Beethovenian style, the monumental French tradition of public ceremonial music.

Remarkably, Berlioz claimed to have finished the score to the entire symphony in only 40 hours. This strengthens the supposition that Berlioz in fact harvested much of the musical material for the Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale from unfinished works. The first movement, the Marche funèbre, was constructed from the Fête musicale funèbre à la mémoiredes homes illustres de la France...

The symphony was originally scored for a wind band of 200 players who were to accompany the procession which moved the coffins of those who had died fighting in the 1830 revolution for reburial beneath a memorial column which had been set up on the site of the Bastille. Berlioz himself led the band. On the actual day of the parade, little of the music could be heard over the cheering crowds who lined the way. Nevertheless, the work had been such a success at the dress rehearsal that it was given two more performances in August, which sealed its reputation as one of the composer's most popular works during his lifetime.

Berlioz revised the score in January of 1842, adding an optional part for strings and a final chorus to words by Antony Deschamps. ... Richard Wagner told Robert Schumann that he found passages in the last movement of Berlioz's symphony so "magnificent and sublime that they can never be surpassed."

- Program note from Wikipedia

The goal of this new transcription, by Dr. Andrew McMahan, Director of Bands at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, was to change only that which was absolutely necessary in order to update the 1966 New Berlioz Edition by Hugh Macdonald for the modern symphonic band. Notes regarding specific changes are shown in the Discussion tab above.

- Program Note by Andrew McMahan


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer