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PARISIENNE, LA. Out of the many melodies associated with the Revolution of 1830 two have survived, and in some sense become national airs, 'La Parisienne' and 'Les Trois Couleurs.' The first commemorates the influence of Paris, and the triumph of the Orleanist party; the second is Republican, and in the name of France proclaims the triumph of democracy. [See Trois Couleurs, Les.]

Casimir Delavigne, librarian of the Palais Royal, and the favourite poet of Louis Philippe, was the first to celebrate the Revolution in verse, his stanzas dating from the day after the Parisians had defeated the troops of Charles X. (Aug. 1, 1830). Among his intimate friends were Auber and Brack, the latter a good musician and singer, devoted to Volkslieder.[1] In his collection was one, apparently composed in 1757 at the time of the siege of Harburg, and to this Delavigne adapted his words. Auber transposed it into A, and added a symphony, very simple, but bold and martial in character. We give the first of the seven stanzas.

{ \tempo "Allegro." \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \time 4/4 \key a \major \partial 4. \relative e' { s16 e e8. e16 | a2 a4 b8. b16 | cis2 a8. cis16 cis8. d16 | e2 e4 d8. d16 | cis4 r r8 r16 e, e8. e16 | a2 a4 b8. b16 | cis2 a8. cis16 cis8. d16 | e4.. e16 d4.. d16 | cis4 r r8 r16 cis16 cis8. d16 | e4.. e16 e4.. e16 | fis2 d8. fis16 fis8. fis16 | e4.. e16 d4.. d16 | cis2 b4 e8. d16 | cis4 a a e'8. d16 | cis4 a a e'8. d16 | cis4 cis cis cis | cis8. b16 cis8. d16 e4 r8 r16 fis | e4.. e16 d4.. d16 | cis2 b4 r8 r16 d | cis8. b16 cis8. d16 e2 | a,4 r r r \bar "||" }
\addlyrics { Peu -- ple fran -- çais, peu -- ple de bra -- ves. La li -- ber -- té rou -- vre ses bras! On nous di -- sait: soy -- es en -- cla -- ves! Nous a -- vons dit: soy -- ons sol -- dats! Sou -- dain Pa -- ris dans sa mé -- moi -- re A re -- trou -- vé son cri de gloi -- re: En a -- vant! mar -- chons Con -- tre les ca -- nons! A tra -- vers le fer, le feu des ba -- tai -- llons Cou -- rons à la vic -- toi -- re! Cou -- rons à la vic -- toi -- re! } }

The 'Parisienne' was first heard in public at the Theatre of the Porte St. Martin on Monday, Aug. 2, 1830. Two days later the Opera was reopened, and the playbill announced the 'Muette de Portici' reduced to four acts, and 'La Marche Parisienne,' a cantata by Casimir Delavigne, sung by Adolphe Nourrit. On this occasion Auber had the last phrase repeated in chorus, and produced the symphony already mentioned.

The defect of the 'Parisienne,' from a musical point of view, is the constant recurrence of the three notes, C, E, and A, especially C: this harping on the third of the key has a monotonous effect, which not even Nourrit's singing could disguise. The jovial turn of the refrain too is quite inconsistent with the words. It is also a pity that the last line ends with a feminine rhyme; the final 'e' of the word 'victoire' being tame and unwarlike to a degree.

But, though wanting in martial spirit, the air had a great success at the time; and some years later the usual controversy as to its origin arose. On this subject Georges Kastner published an interesting article in the 'Revue et Gazette musicale' (April 9, 1849) to which the reader is referred. The writer of the present article is indebted to Germain Delavigne (Casimir's brother) for the curious and little-known fact, that Scribe and he had previously introduced the air into 'Le Baron de Trenck,' a two-act comédie-vaudeville, produced in Paris, Oct. 14, 1828.

[ G. C. ]


  1. These details are derived from Auber himself.