Warlord or war criminal?

Napoleon Bonaparte was born 250 years ago.

Napoleon was a genius warlord and guardian of the legacy of the French Revolution or a war criminal and servant of the nations. The story of the French ruler traces the fantastic path from a notorious islander to the most powerful man in Europe. Napoleon stands for the arrival of modernity in Europe and at the same time for the new, total face of war.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Numerous composers have set Napoleon and the memorable war events a musical monument. First and foremost Tchaikovsky’s Ouverture Solenelle 1812, which is available in various arrangements. Among the classics, Beethoven, who was a fervent admirer of Napoleon, should also be mentioned. To him he dedicated his Third Symphony, entitled Eroica. But when Napoleon crowned himself “Emperor of all people” a few years later, Beethoven was very angry and realized that Napoleon was only striving for his own power and fame. History repeated itself later under other signs….

Among the contemporary composers the Austrian Otto M. Schwarz should be mentioned, of whom there is even a work for wind orchestra and film performance ( 1805 – A Town’s Tale ). The story the film tells takes place against the background of the 3rd coalition war between the Napoleonic troops and the allied countries Russia, England, Sweden and Austria in 1805 near Krems / Lower Austria during the “Battle of Dürenstein”.

Florian Pedarnig with his famous march “Die Land Tirol die Treue” (Loyalty to the Tyrol) should be mentioned, which recalls the forced recruitment to the Bavarian army and Austria’s war against Napoleon in 1809. The Tyrolean freedom struggle marks the end of Napoleon’s reign in Europe.

The Frenchman Thierry Deleruyelle created Emperor, a descriptive work based on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The first movement emphasizes the character traits of the Emperor of France, which include heroism and brilliance as well as melancholy. The second movement is dedicated to his great love Josephine Beauharnais and in contrast the third to Napoleon and his numerous battles. A dazzling work about a great historical figure!

With Napoleon at Waterloo the American Barry Kopetz describes Napoleon’s last battle at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. The defeat of the French led by Napoleon against the allied troops under the English General Wellington and the Prussian Field Marshal Blücher ended Napoleon’s “rule of the Hundred Days” and led to his final abdication on 22 June 1815 to the end of the French Empire.

Napoleon’s brutal will to power is undisputed. He is said to have fought more battles than Charlemagne, Hannibal and Caesar put together. He left behind mountains of corpses with his war campaigns – and yet: he fascinates not only his contemporaries.

The poet Christian Morgenstern (1871 to 1914) remarked: “Napoleon was a natural phenomenon. To revile him for a great butcher means nothing other than to revile an earthquake for gross mischief or a thunderstorm for public disturbance of the peace“.

250 years of Napoleon Bonaparte – a memorable event that fits worthily into every concert: List of works

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