Marching to the Canon

Marching to the Canon

The Life of Schubert's "Marche militaire"

Scott Messing

Personal eBook

University of Rochester Press



Marching to the Canon examines the history of Schubert's Marche militaire no.1 from its beginnings, through its many arrangements, to its impact on dance, literature, film, and music.
Marche militaire is Franz Schubert's most recognizable and beloved instrumental work. Originally published for piano four hands in 1826, this tuneful march -- Schubert's first of three military marches -- was arranged, adapted, and incorporated into new incarnations over the next two centuries. Its success was due to its chameleonlike ability to cross the still-porous borders between canonic and popular repertories, creating a performance life that made deep inroads into dance, literature, and film, and inspired quotations or allusions in other music
Marching to the Canon examines the history of Schubert's storied Marche militaire from its modest beginnings as a duet published for domestic consumption to its now-ubiquitous presence. After detailing the composition, publication, and reception of the original march, the book analyzes the impact of transcriptions and arrangements for solo piano, orchestra, band, and other settings. In addition, it considers the ways the march was used symbolically, even manipulated, during the Franco-Prussian War and the two world wars, as well as the diverse creative uses of the piece by significant figures as varied as Willa Cather, Isadora Duncan, Walt Disney, and Igor Stravinsky. This study of the reception and impact of the Marche militaire offers a unique narrative illuminating the world that enshrined this remarkable score as one of the most memorable musical works of the nineteenth century.

Scott Messing is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Music at Alma College, and the author of two works available from the University of Rochester Press: Neoclassicism in Music and the two-volume Schubert in the European Imagination.


8 black and white, 13 line illustrations
338 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Personal eBook, 9781580468817, September 2014
Hardback, 9781580464383, September 2014
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS050000, MUS045000
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

The Original Duet: Composition, Publication, Performance, and Reception
Arranged for Solo Piano: Carl Tausig and His Progeny
Transcriptions: Edification and Entertainment
The Marche militaire at War and Peace
Dance: Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller
Literature: From Novel to Ephemera
Film: Animated Scores and Biedermeier Dreams
Allusion and Quotation: Poulenc and Stravinsky


(Marked by) the author's unique approach to reception history, colourful writing style and extraordinary ability to enliven the results of extensive archival work through imagination and compelling argument. One of the most striking achievements of this monograph is its ability-mirroring its subject matter-to permeate aesthetic and intellectual boundaries. A thoroughly engrossing popular history that speaks to a broad readership, and a sophisticated critique of the permanence of the musical canon and its continued centrality in musicological thought. A model for what can be achieved if one abandons the strict separation of popular and high music. Effective and immediately enjoyable. MUSIC & LETTERS

A beautiful, exciting and important book -- once taken up, it proves difficult to put down, so absorbing are . . . the breadth of scholarship and the keen interpretive insight that the author brings to his mission. It invites, even impels, us to think afresh about what a work of art might mean. AD PARNASSUM

(A) truly useful and illuminating discussion of the piece. . . Messing folds all of the elements of the old and new methodologies of the discipline (i.e., musicology) into a strong and cohesive summation of the life of the Marche militaire. . . . Shows how the piece made its way from a dignified work for all classes of audience to a pro-war song in Germany to a "popular classic" appropriate for use in accompanying silent motion pictures. Schubert aficionados . . . will want to read this study. H-War

Messing's in-depth investigation (of Schubert's "Marche militaire") reveals that its reception and influence in society have been great. A welcome addition to the literature. Summing Up: Highly recommended. CHOICE

"This extraordinary book of immense learning and imagination provides a unique perspective on Schubert's Marche militaire no.1 and its afterlives, therby exploring a phenomenal success story in the history of music, media, literature, dance, and in European and American culture more generally. Only someone with Messing's gift for unearthing the unknown -- and surprising the reader continually with the twists and turns in the reception hisotry of this duet -- could have realized such an ambition so successfully" --Lorraine Byrne Bodley, author of Schubert's Goethe Settings

Author Bio

Scott Messing is Charles A. Dana Professor of Music at Alma College.

Also by Author

Also in Series