1 page, folio (c.35 x 27cm), 26-stave paper [by Lard-Esnault of Paris], [late 1863 or early 1864], small portion at bottom torn away, very slightly affecting the text, tears without loss to margins and central fold, carefully repaired on verso
"LES TROYENS" IS ONE OF BERLIOZ'S GREATEST WORKS AND THE CULMINATION OF HIS CAREER AS A COMPOSER. It is also the fulfilment of his life-long devotion to Virgil: a five-act opera to his own libretto concerning Troy and Carthage, Cassandra, Dido and Aeneas. The 'Trojan March' is emblematic of the work, first appearing as the Act 1 finale (no.11) and pervading many scenes, including the arrival of the Trojans at Carthage in Act 3 (no.26), and twice in Act 5 (nos 44 & 52), when they depart for Italy.
SKETCHES BY BERLIOZ ARE IN THEMSELVES VERY RARE: no examples survive for many of his works. D. Kern Holoman doubts whether many ever existed: Berlioz appears to have composed music with amazing facility, like Mozart or Rossini, rather than sketching extensively beforehand like Beethoven. Manuscripts revealing the creation of his compositions are practically never available for sale.
In the summer of 1863, Berlioz was persuaded by the impresario Carvalho to divide Les Troyens into two halves, so that Acts 3, 4 & 5 could be staged separately (as Les Troyens à Carthage). He found that the 'Marche troyenne', dominating the Act 1 Finale and featuring Cassandra and the chorus, was now to be excluded from Carvalho's staging of the opera; indeed the first half of the opera was never performed in his lifetime. Berlioz therefore devised a 'Prologue' to introduce Les Troyens à Carthage, which includes a slightly shortened version of the 'Marche troyenne': still with chorus, but omitting Cassandra’s dramatic interjections. In January 1864 he fashioned a concert version of this 'Prologue', with a newly-composed coda to replace the original ending (”Fiers sommets de Pergame”). The present manuscript is Berlioz’s working draft of that coda (starting at Figure 8 in the published score of the purely orchestral 'Marche troyenne' H133B). The draft coda is dominated by a full statement of the ten-bar march theme (systems 7-9), preceded by an extended modulatory treatment of the opening call for cornets and trombones (systems 3-6). He derived the remaining passages that open and conclude this manuscript from the opera itself: namely, the penultimate occurrence of the 'Marche troyenne' that closes Dido’s and Aeneas’s duet in Act 5 (no.44), where the Trojans come to take Aeneas away to fulfil his destiny in founding the city of Rome.
The enforced division of Les Troyens (effectively reduced to Part 2), was a bitter pill for Berlioz to swallow. It is notable that despite its vicissitudes, Berlioz still refers to his great opera as Les Troyens rather than by the new title. The complete autograph fair copy of the Marche troyenne at the Bibliothèque nationale also bears the same title as here ("Marche Troyenne tirée de l'opéra des Troyens..."), whereas in Choudens's edition (1865) the title was altered to "...tirée de l'opéra Les Troyens à Carthage ...".
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