Funeral March of a Marionette

The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d'une marionnette) is a short piece by Charles Gounod. It was originally written for solo piano in 1872 and orchestrated in 1879. It is perhaps best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents.[1]

Background

While residing in London, England, between 1871 and 1872, Gounod started to write a suite for piano called Suite burlesque. It was a satirical character piece intended to be a parody of the personality of Henry Chorley, a music critic. It greatly amused Gounod's English patron, Georgina Weldon, who described Chorley as having a "thin, sour, high-pitched sopranish voice" and moving like a "stuffed red-haired monkey".[2] Gounod intended to publish the piece with a dedication to Chorley, but the latter died before this was possible. Weldon then invented a new program for the piece, which was re-titled "Funeral March of a Marionette". After completing this piece, Gounod abandoned the rest of the suite.[3] The piece was dedicated to Madame Viguier, a pianist and the wife of Alfred Viguier, the first violin in the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.

In 1879, he orchestrated the piece with piccolo, flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in D, 2 trumpets in A, 3 trombones, ophicleide, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, and strings.[4]

The work is in the key of D minor with a central section in D major; the time signature is 6/8.[4]

Storyline

The following storyline underlies the "Funeral March of a Marionette":

  • The Marionette has died in a duel.
  • The funeral procession commences (D minor).
  • A central section (D major) depicts the mourners taking refreshments before returning to the funeral march (D minor).

Additionally, inscriptions are found throughout the score as follows:

  • La Marionnette est cassée!!! (The marionette is broken!!!)
  • Murmure de regrets de la troupe (Murmurs of regret from the troupe)
  • Le Cortège (The procession)
  • Ici plusieurs des principaux personnages de la troupe s'arrêtent pour se rafraîchir (Here many of the principal personages stop for refreshments)
  • Retour à la maison (Return to the house)

Recordings and radio broadcasts

The work has been recorded many times. One of the earliest recordings was by John Philip Sousa's band in 1903.[5]

The American horror radio program The Witch's Tale, which originally aired from 1931 to 1938, utilized the music in at least one episode, "The Gypsy's Hand", which aired on April 14, 1932.

Use in films and television

The music was used to accompany at least three early films:

In addition, in The Green Goddess (1930) The Raja (George Arliss) plays a recording of "Funeral March of a Marionette" on a phonograph for his British visitors, and remarks on the macabre quality of the piece.

Alfred Hitchcock had heard the music in the 1927 film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. In 1955, when choosing the theme music for his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he remembered the effect that "Funeral March of a Marionette" had on him. It was through Hitchcock's program that the music achieved its widest audience, although few people would have been able to identify the composer or title. The series continued for ten years, and the theme music appeared in five versions by as many arrangers: in 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1964 ‒ the last version being arranged by Bernard Herrmann, who transposed the piece up a third.[7] The "Funeral March of a Marionette" was one of eight compositions that Hitchcock selected to take to a fictional desert island on the 1959 BBC radio program, Desert Island Discs.[8]

References

  1. ^ Huizenga, Tom (March 5, 2013). "Marches Madness: Puppets and a Funeral". NPR.
  2. ^ Harding, pp. 179–80
  3. ^ enpmusic; retrieved 16 August 2013
  4. ^ a b Marche funèbre d'une marionnette: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  5. ^ archive.org; retrieved 16 August 2013
  6. ^ Welcome Danger on IMDb
  7. ^ Alfred Hitchcock (suspense anthology); retrieved 16 August 2013
  8. ^ BBC; retrieved 16 August 2013

External links

Alfred Hitchcock

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as "the Master of Suspense", he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing of the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1965).

Born in Leytonstone, Essex, Hitchcock entered the film industry in 1919 as a title card designer after training as a technical clerk and copy writer for a telegraph-cable company. He made his directorial debut with the silent film The Pleasure Garden (1925). His first successful film, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), helped to shape the thriller genre, while his 1929 film, Blackmail, was the first British "talkie". Two of his 1930s thrillers, The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), are ranked among the greatest British films of the 20th century.

By 1939 Hitchcock was a filmmaker of international importance, and film producer David O. Selznick persuaded him to move to Hollywood. A string of successful films followed, including Rebecca (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and The Paradine Case (1947); Rebecca was nominated for 11 Oscars and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. His 53 films have grossed over US$223.3 million worldwide and garnered a total of 46 Oscar nominations and six wins.

The "Hitchcockian" style includes the use of camera movement to mimic a person's gaze, thereby turning viewers into voyeurs, and framing shots to maximise anxiety and fear. The film critic Robin Wood wrote that the meaning of a Hitchcock film "is there in the method, in the progression from shot to shot. A Hitchcock film is an organism, with the whole implied in every detail and every detail related to the whole." By 1960 Hitchcock had directed four films often ranked among the greatest of all time: Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960). In 2012 Vertigo replaced Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) as the British Film Institute's greatest film ever made. By 2018 eight of his films had been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, including his personal favourite, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979 and was knighted in December that year, four months before he died.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series that was hosted and produced by Alfred Hitchcock; the program aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time it premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named it one of "The 100 Best TV Shows of All Time". The Writers Guild of America ranked it #79 on their list of the 101 Best-Written TV Series tying it with Monty Python's Flying Circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs.A series of literary anthologies with the running title Alfred Hitchcock Presents were issued to capitalize on the success of the television series. One volume, devoted to stories that censors wouldn't allow to be adapted for broadcast, was entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV—though eventually several of the stories collected were adapted.

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Charles Gounod

Charles-François Gounod (; French: [ʃaʁl fʁɑ̃swa ɡuno]; 17 June 1818 – 17 or 18 October 1893) was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust. Another opera by Gounod still performed is Roméo et Juliette.

Gounod died at Saint-Cloud in 1893, after a final revision of his twelve operas. His funeral took place ten days later at the Church of the Madeleine, with Camille Saint-Saëns playing the organ and Gabriel Fauré conducting. He was buried at the Cimetière d'Auteuil in Paris.

Funeral march

A funeral march (Marche funèbre in French, Marcia funebre in Italian, Trauermarsch in German), as a musical genre, is a march, usually in a minor key, in a slow "simple duple" metre, imitating the solemn pace of a funeral procession. Some such marches are often considered appropriate for use during funerals and other sombre occasions, the most well-known being that of Chopin. Handel uses the name dead march, also used for marches played by a military band at military funerals and executions.

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Henry Chorley

Henry Fothergill Chorley (15 December 1808 – 16 February 1872) was an English literary, art and music critic, writer and editor. He was also an author of novels, drama, poetry and lyrics.

Chorley was a prolific and important music and literary critic and music gossip columnist of the mid-nineteenth century and wrote extensively about music in London and in Europe. His opera libretti and works of fiction were far less successful. He is perhaps best remembered today for his lyrics to "The Long Day Closes", a part song set by Arthur Sullivan in 1868.

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His appearances became so popular that he began to make them earlier in his films so as not to distract the audience from the plot. Hitchcock confirms this in extended interviews with François Truffaut, and indeed the majority of his appearances occur within the first half-hour of his films, with over half in the first 15 minutes.

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Mataga's original version is 16K in size and was released on disk and tape for the Atari 8-bit family, and later sold by Atari on cartridge following the launch of the Atari XEGS in 1987. The VIC-20 port is 8K and contains only 32 levels, unlike the 128 in every other version. In 1999, Mataga developed a remake for the Game Boy Color, and later, both Shamus and Shamus: Case II for iOS.

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She died at Burford, near Oxford, in 1977 and was buried beside her husband in the churchyard at Elsfield.

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Winifred Arnaud Duke (1890 - April 4, 1962) was a British author of fiction and Scottish history.

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