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Moods: Type: Live Recordings Classical: Band Music Classical: Twentieth Century

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Mark Custom Recording Facebook Hector Berlioz, Composer "The President's Own" United States Marine Band Mark Custom Recording: Record Label

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band


Col Michael J. Colburn, Director
Maj Jason K. Fettig, Assistant Director/Executive Officer

The United States Marine Band, established by an Act of Congress in 1798, is America’s oldest professional musical organization. The relationship between the Marine Band and the White House began on New Year’s Day in 1801, when President John Adams invited the Band to perform at the Executive Mansion. Later that year, Thomas Jefferson invited the Marine Band to perform for his Inaugural, and they have performed for every presidential inauguration since. Today, the Marine Band engages in more than 500 public and official performances annually. Every year the band travels across the United States on concert tours, a tradition that began with John Philip Sousa in 1891. Members of “The President’s Own” are active duty members of the United States Marines Corps who enlist under a contract of service with the Marine Band only. The musicians are selected through a rigorous audition procedure.

(1803 - 1869)

In his own time Hector Berlioz was something of an outsider, as far as the French musical establishment was concerned. Nevertheless he remains the outstanding figure in French romantic music, typical of the period particularly in his literary interests. At first a medical student, he eventually entered the Paris Conservatoire, but encountered some difficulty in his subsequent career, as he strove for a hearing of his music. He earned his living in part as a critic and writer, and his Mémoires remain a fascinating if prejudiced account of musical life in Paris in his time.

Orchestral Music

The Symphonie fantastique of 1830, an orchestral work that contains autobiographical elements, suggested new paths in composition. This was followed four years later by Harold in Italy, for viola and orchestra, with a narrative programme of literary origin, written for but never performed by the great violinist Paganini. Concert overtures include a Shakespearean King Lear and two overtures based on the work of Sir Walter Scott, Waverley and Rob Roy. The overture Le carnaval romain (Roman Carnival) was derived from his opera Benvenuto Cellini, while Le corsaire has at least Byronic overtones. His interest in Shakespeare, increased by his love affair and later unsuccessful marriage with the Shakespearian actress Harriet Smithson, had a further result in the dramatic symphony Romeo and Juliet.

Choral Works

Other important works by Berlioz include the Eight Scenes from Faust, later revised as The Damnation of Faust, one of the most original of a number compositions based on Goethe's drama. The Christmas oratorio L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ) is a significant and characteristic work, with the remarkable and extravagantly orchestrated Grande Messe des morts (Requiem) with its brass bands and massed choirs.


Equally extravagant is the opera Les Troyens (The Trojans), later divided into two parts, The Capture of Troy and The Trojans. Excerpts from the opera, the music for the Royal Hunt and Storm, in which the Carthaginian Queen Dido and her Trojan lover Aeneas realise their love for each other, can be heard in concert programmes.