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Miscellaneous works

The Sufferings of the Queen of France, Op.23

This piece was written shortly after queen Marie-Antoinette's execution in 1793. It was first published the following year by the "Dussek and Corri" publishing company in London. Marie-Antoinette became Dussek's patron during his stay in France, and she would have kept him employed at her court for a decade, if history had not intervened. At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Dussek was forced to leave the country, since as a favourite of the court he could well be executed along with them.

This unusual piece of programme music is surprisingly fresh, inventive and innovative. It contains ten sections with programmatic titles (sometimes written directly in the score), closely following the dramatic sequence of events. The sections are as follows :

1) The Queen's Imprisonment
2 )She Reflects on her Former Greatness
3) They Separate her from her Children - Farewell to Children
4) They Pronounce the Sentence of Death
5) Her Resignation to her Fate
6) The Situation and Reflections the Night before her Execution - The Guards come to conduct her to the place of Execution - They enter the Prison door
7) March
8) The Savage tumult of the Rabble
9) The Queen's Invocation to the Almighty just before her Death - The Guillotine drops
10) The Apotheosis

The piece makes frequent use of rhetorical figures such as "sighs", "weeping" intervals, march rhythms, "drumming" effects, baroque ornaments and even the fall of the guillotine blade, depicted by a glissando (which is higly unusual for that time).

The tonal structure is also interesting - the piece goes from C minor though E flat major, D major, D minor and E major to the C major in "The Apotheosis", giving an impressive end to this splendid and sadly neglected piece.

The Sufferings of the Queen of France, Op. 23 4:30 Pohl, R.
Jan 7, 2016
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