A CONCERT/TALK BY PROFESSOR PETER HICKS, FONDATION NAPOLÉON WHAT IS NAPOLEONIC MUSIC?
The purpose of this concert/talk is to recreate a soundscape of the early nineteenth century. If we think of the music of that time, the great names of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven immediately come to mind. On the other hand, if we look at the musical taste (nascent Romanticism, the craze for the military exploits, the passion for an imagined medieval past…) and the programmes of concerts (pieces of different genres, solos, self-accompanied art songs, historical and political pieces, all juxtaposed in no formal order) of the time, a whole new musical atmosphere emerges. Furthermore, composers completely forgotten today suddenly appear: André Grétry (“THE” star of his time in France and indeed elsewhere – his mega-funeral in Paris in 1813 would only be rivalled by those of Napoleon in 1840 and Victor Hugo, and that for the whole of the 19th century), P. J. Garat (Napoleon’s favourite “entertainer”, Parisian vocal star and composer), Etienne-Nicolas Méhul, Queen Hortense, Daniel Stiebelt, and Bernard Viguerie. These figured provided is provided the soundtrack for the Napoleonic period.
Peter Hicks is an historian of the Napoleonic period and head of international affairs at the Fondation Napoléon, Paris. He was also for ten years Visiting Professor at the University of Bath (UK) and is an Honorary Fellow at the Napoleon Institute and the French Revolution, at Florida State University (US).
The music of the period of Napoleon Bonaparte is among his intellectual and practical interests. On March 24, 2009, he co-organized with David Chaillou (and with the help of Radio Classique) the Atelier de la Fondation Napoléon – “Musiques au quotidien dans la France napoléonienne” at the Marmottan Library.
His article “The “pièce militaire et historique” for keyboard in the Napoleonic period: recounting a musical story” is published in Napoleonica. La Revue, 1/2010 (N ° 7). He is also a church musician in Paris (St George’s Anglican Chaplaincy), conductor (director of choral society ‘Musicanti’) and pianist/singer. On December 2, 2004, he conducted the orchestra, the soloists and the choirs in a bicentenary concert of the coronation mass of Napoleon de Paisiello, at the church of Madeleine, Paris, and in 2010 he conducted the orchestra, soloists and choirs during a concert commemorating the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise to Saint-Louis des Invalides, Paris. In May 2018 he produced the scores, made arrangements and also conducted a concert of rare Napoleonic music at the Hôtel des Invalides, (choir, soloists and orchestra). He is currently preparing a book on Napoleonic Music (Alma éditeur 2021).