A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Départ, Chant du

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DÉPART, CHANT DU. This national air was composed by Méhul to some fine lines by Marie Joseph Chenier, for the concert celebrating the fourth anniversary of the taking of the Bastille (July 14, 1794). Chénier was in hiding at the house of Sarrette when he wrote the words, and the original edition, by order of the National Convention, states merely 'Paroles de …; musique de Méhul.' Of all the French patriotic songs this is the only one actually written during the Terror. The first verse is as follows:—

{ \override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #f #f) \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \time 4/4 \tempo \markup { \smaller \italic "Tempo di marcia" } \partial 4 \relative e'' { \autoBeamOff e8 d | c2 c4 g c2. r8 c | d4. e8 f4 e | d2 d8 f e d | c2 d8[ c] b a | g2. e'8 d | c2 c4 g | c2. c8 c | d4.( e8) f4 e | d2 d8 f e d | c4. c8 d[ c] b[ a] | g2. r8 g | g([ a)] b c d4 b8 g | c2 c4 r8 c | d4 d8 d ees4 c8 ees | d2. r8 d | f e! d c b([ c)] d([ b)] g2 g4 r8 g | c4 g8 g ees4 c8 c | g'2\fermata r8 g a b | c4. c8 d4. d8 | e2 e4 c8 c | d2 e8 g f e | d2 r4 e8 d | c4. c8 b[ c] d e | f2 f4 r8 f | e4 c8 e g4 e8 c | g2. e'8 d | c4. c8 b[ c] d e | f2 f4 r8 f | e4 c8 e g4 b,8 b | c2 r4 r \bar "||" }
\addlyrics { La vic -- toire en chant -- ant nous ou -- vre la ba -- rié -- re, La li -- ber -- té gui -- de nos pas; Et du Nord au mi -- di la trom -- pet -- te guer -- rié -- re a son -- né l'heu -- re des com -- bats. Trem -- blez, en -- ne -- mis de la Fran -- ce, Rois i -- vres de sang et d'or -- gueil! Le peu -- ple sou -- ve -- rain s'a -- van -- ce; Ty -- rans, de -- scend -- ez au cer -- cuell! La ré -- pu -- bli -- que nous ap -- pel -- le, Sa -- chons valncre ou sa -- chons pé -- rir; Un Fran -- çais doit vi -- vre pour el -- le, Pour elle un Fran -- cais doit mou -- rir! Un Franç -- ais doit vi -- vre pour el -- le, Pour elle un Franç -- ais doit mou -- rir! }
The opening phrase is spirited and sonorous; the modulation in the middle recalls perhaps involuntarily that in the Marseillaise; while the end foreshadows too definitely the melodies of the Empire. Apart from its merit as music, the air is appropriate to Chénier's words, and produces an almost overwhelming effect when sung by a multitude.

[ G. C. ]