Scherzo

Marches Madness: Mourning Queen Mary II

For Queen Mary II's funeral, Henry Purcell wrote a simple and stately march. i i

hide captionFor Queen Mary II's funeral, Henry Purcell wrote a simple and stately march.

Peter Lely/Wikimedia Commons
For Queen Mary II's funeral, Henry Purcell wrote a simple and stately march.

For Queen Mary II's funeral, Henry Purcell wrote a simple and stately march.

Peter Lely/Wikimedia Commons

It's Marches Madness! Throughout this month, we're posting some of our favorite marches — from the concert hall, opera stage and parade ground. Got one we should hear? Played any yourself? Let us know in the comments section.

The funeral of England's Queen Mary II in March 1695 included music by one of her country's greatest composers, Henry Purcell. His simple, stately, perfectly proportioned march for the occasion has been especially popular with musicians of the last 50 years.

The film A Clockwork Orange opens ominously with Moog synthesizer virtuoso Wendy Carlos' ingeniously fuzzy version. The march is quoted at a crowning moment in the Trombone Concerto by Michael Nyman. Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Stucky made a haunting, freely conceived transcription for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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This is the original march, performed by musicians of Clare College, Cambridge, as it might have been heard at the queen's funeral (note the muffled drum, a sign of mourning). Purcell himself died just eight months after this piece was first played. He was 36.

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