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French National Défilé March

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Robert Planquette

Robert Planquette (arr. Rauski, Turlot and Seredy)

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This work is also attributed to Joseph Francois Rauski under the title Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse.

General Info

Year: 1871 / 1937
Duration: c. 4:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts Out of print

For availability information, see Discussion area.


Full Score
D-flat Piccolo
C Piccolo/Flute I
Flute II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
Cornets Solo-I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The French National Défilé March (Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse) was originally a poem written in 1870 by Paul Cezano in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War and the first days of France's Third Republic, and was referenced to the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse. The music was written in 1871 by Jean Robert Planquette, and was originally arranged as a march by Joseph Francois Rauski. The American version of the march was written by Andre Turlet. The French National Defile March has been played in many football games in the United States, especially with the marching band of Ohio State University as they execute their "Script Ohio" formation (complete with the senior tuba player "dotting the 'I'").

- Program Note by publisher

This march has long been a favorite of French or French-related military forces. In Canada, for example, it was the authorized march of the famous Royal 22nd Regiment until 1935; it is still the march of the Regiment de la Chaudiere and the Regiment de Maisonneuve. Planquette first composed the music to Paul Cézano’s poem Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse when he was 19. He explained later that he sold the march song to a publisher for 14 francs because he was "frightfully hungry” at the time. He shared the evening meal with the librettist and later relinquished all of his rights for 50 francs. Around 1870 his Refrains du Regiment, a collection of 12 military march songs, was published; Sambre-Meuse, the most popular of the set, was soon being performed throughout France, especially at the Eldorado Music Hall in Paris where it was sung by the baritone Vialla. The libretto concerns a mythical regiment named for the battle-scarred area of the Sambre and Meuse Rivers in northern France and Belgium. A translation of the first stanza and chorus follows:

All those sons of France, forever brave and proud
Have gone unceasingly without rest;
Each with heavy musket on his shoulder
Courageous heart to stand the test.
Their glory was their only ration,
They were without shoes, without bread.
At night they lay upon the hard ground
Each with a pack beneath his head.
The regiment of Sambre-Meuse
Marched ever to the call of liberty,
Seeking the pathway lined with glory
Which leads it on to immortality!

Controversy pertaining to the rightful composer of The Sambre-Meuse Regiment March has flared periodically since its premiere by the 18th Infantry Regiment Band at Verdun Square in Pau, France, in 1879. Planquette, Joseph Francsois Rauski, and A. Turlet have each been credited with its composition at various times. Turlet was a publisher in Paris who transcribed the band arrangement for piano and small orchestra but had no hand in its composition. Rauski, who was born in Sarreguemines, France, in 1837 and died in Arcachon in 1910, deserves full credit for his arrangement for military band but not for its composition. In comparing his setting with Planquette’s march song score, one can readily see that the 99-bar first section (which repeats) derives all of its material from the earlier work. The trio (which was added by Rauski and also repeats) has a total of 40 bars, of which the final 16 are a literal repetition; the entire trio consists of two- and four-bar rhythmic recurrences.

Rauski conducted several bands during his military career, and he also participated in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Tunisian campaign of 1871. He made the pas redoublé—quick-tempo transcription of Planquette’s marching song in 1879 at the request of a superior officer while he was stationed in Pau. After conducting the premiere he also helped to distribute the march to other military and municipal bands. The problem of true authorship may be partially due to the fact that Rauski’s and Turlet’s names were added to the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM) bulletin de naissance after the arrangement was made.

In the summer of 1937, birthday centennial celebrations for J. F Rauski -- as the “true composer” of Sambre et Meuse -- were held in Sarreguemines and Pau; the occasion was widely noted by both the French and foreign press. Unable to contain his indignation regarding the persistent faux pas, the noted music critic Emile Vuillermoz wrote an eloquent plea for justice in the Paris newspaper L’Excelsior on the 31st of July, 1937. Headlined “The True Father of the Sambre-Meuse,” Vuillermoz’s article concludes: “Since some have decided to bestow ‘immortality’ on a French composer, let them do it right, and let them not confuse the rights of an adoptive parent with those of the musician who actually fathered a celebrated and glorious piece of music.”

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse, Wikipedia
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 480-481.
  • Turlet, A.; Seredy, J.; Rauski, J. (1937). French National Défilé: March [score]. Carl Fisher: New York.