Wednesday Music: Gounod’s ‘Fantasy on the Russian National Hymn’

This post may be a little late, but you know what they say: better late than never. Plus, it is still Wednesday where I reside, even though it’s already Thursday for my European and Australian and Asian readers. (I don’t think I have any readers in Africa, but if I do, I know it’s Thursday there, too.) Anyway, I haven’t done a Wednesday Music post in a really long time, so I am so excited to post today because I have found the most fabulous piece of music. It’s called Fantaisie sur l’Hymne National Russe (Fantasy on the Russian National Hymn) by Charles Gounod and it is simply glorious.

I wrote earlier this week about my love for the tsarist national anthem and if you like that anthem, you’ll probably like this piece. Gounod basically built the entire thing on the melody of the national anthem. If you listen to a recording of the anthem, then this piece, you can clearly hear the melody right from the start. Here’s a bit about it.

  • Gounod wrote this fantasy in 1885. No one is certain how or why he chose the national anthem of the Russian Empire as his theme, but I’m certainly glad he did. Maybe he was a Russophile and we just don’t know that…
  • The piece premiered on November 16, 1885. Lucie Palicot, to whom it was dedicated, played it, accompanied by Gounod himself on the piano.
  • The orchestral version premiered in February 1886. The brass instruments and the piano have the theme most of the time.

Seriously, everyone, this is almost as great as Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March.

Enjoy!

Or click here to see on YouTube.

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4 thoughts on “Wednesday Music: Gounod’s ‘Fantasy on the Russian National Hymn’

  1. Natashka,

    My Cyrillic is much worse than my Russian. And my Russian is Plox.

    How are you? You mentioned a book to teach Russian from. Why don’t we go one step further, and build a system of instruction that WORKS.

    I know you know what I mean.

    Wayne

    1. I’m impressed you knew it already! I discovered it only recently and am completely obsessed. I need to download a copy for my music library. (Unlike many people nowadays, I have yet to jump on the streaming bandwagon. I like owning DRM-free audio files because I *know* those are actually mine. But that’s a rant for a separate post.)

      1. I wish I could claim an excellent knowledge of all things classical, I probably only know this piece because of a college professor I had many, many, many years ago who absolutely loved Gounod. So, his devotion to Gounod rubbed off on me a bit. I do enjoy the piece – it was just put on the back shelf of this older guys brain until you brought it to the forefront again. And I’m grateful you did!

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