The National Music of America - online book

The Sources & Factors Influential In Forming America's Music.

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The 'National Music of A merica. 109
events around him, in one night, the night preceding April 24, 1792, he wrote both mu­sic and words of the great liberty hymn. The whole composition came as if by inspiration.
The originality of the melody with this composer, however, has been doubted. Castil-Blaze says that the music comes from an old German hymn ; Fetis gives an earlier French origin to it; a rather detailed account in a recent Parisian volume ' says :
"The melody was composed by Alexandre Boncher, the celebrated violinist, in the drawing-room of Madame de Mortaigne, at the request of a colonel whom the musician had never met before, whom he never saw again. The soldier was starting next morning with his regiment, for Marseilles, and pressed Boncher to write him a march there and then. Rouget de l'lsle, an officer of engineers, hav­ing been imprisoned in 1791 for having refused to take a second oath to the constitution, heard the march from his cell, and, at the instance of his jailer,
1" An Englishman in Paris." The volume is rather too sensational to be trusted, although it gives many details of Boncher's work.
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