On Air Now
Classic FM Drive with John Brunning 4pm - 7pm
To celebrate the start of March, we're taking a look at some of the best marches in classical music. All together now: left, right, left, right...
Often used at weddings thanks to its steady pace, this piece is frequently chosen as entrance music to announce the bride's arrival. It was heard at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981.
There are six marches in Elgar's Op. 39, but the most famous is the first in D major. It includes the famous 'Land of Hope and Glory' in the Trio section, which was adapted into a hymn in 1902 when King Edward VII told Elgar he thought the melody would make a great song - and he was right!
Another royal classical march, Walton's piece was first performed at the coronation of King George VI in 1937, and subsequently at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It's clearly a royal favourite - Prince William and Kate Middleton used the music as a recessional piece at their wedding in 2011.
Regal and proud, a piano fanfare announces the entrance of the lion in this exciting march from Carnival of the Animals. You can even hear the sound of a lion's roar in the running scales of the piano.
Taken from his incidental suite to A Midsummer Night's Dream, this is another wedding favourite. Played on a church pipe organ, it is one of the most frequently used wedding marches.
The devastatingly mournful third movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 has graced the funerals of a number of famous musicians. It was performed at Elgar's memorial concert after he transcribed the music for full orchestra, and played at the graveside during Chopin's own burial.
Written specially to be played at the funeral of Queen Mary II in 1695, Purcell's piece consists of a march, canzona and anthem. It's scored for four trumpets with slides, that can play in a minor key.
Delicate and light, this skipping march is taken from the party scene in Tchaikovsky's festive ballet. Part march, part dance, the dotted rhythms in the music contribute to the sense of excitement.
Like so many good marches, this one begins with a burst of brass chords before breaking into a slow, majestic piece. And you'll probably recognise the triumphant trumpet solo, blessed with one of Verdi's unmistakably hummable tunes.
In the children's story of Peter and the Wolf, the young boy catches the wolf by its tail. This march takes the main theme of the piece and transforms it into a victory parade as the hunters take the animal to the zoo.
This short piece tells the tale of two members of a Marionette troupe, who have had a duel. One of the Marionettes dies, and the procession sets out for the cemetery.
The Turkish sound captured the imagination of many Viennese composers, including Beethoven, who even included a Turkish march in the final movement of his Symphony No. 9. This sprightly piece of piano music starts quietly and gradually increases in volume, before fading away again - as though a procession is passing by.
Explosively exciting, yet triumphant and ordered, this march from Bizet's Carmen, is one of many memorable tunes in the opera.
Taken from the English Folk Song Suite, the healthy dose of piccolo and snare drum give a military band feel to this sprightly movement. The music opens with the folk song, 'Blow Away the Morning Dew', before giving way to 'High Germany', and 'The Trees So High'.
A lovesick artist poisons himself with opium in the fourth movement of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. During the course of this musical hallucination, he dreams he has killed his beloved, and is marched to his execution. Listen carefully at the end of the movement for the loud orchestral chord signifying the guillotine's chop, and the bouncing of the artist's head, represented by low plucked notes from the strings.
Eric Coates' brilliant theme to the 1955 film, The Dam Busters, is now so popular in its own right that it's often played at military flypasts in the UK. It's not surprising, given its catchy tune.
Probably the best known piece from Prokofiev's satirical opera, this March also features in the orchestral suite version of this music, and in a transcription for piano solo. Prokofiev also quotes the march in the second act of his ballet, Cinderella.
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 contains an impressively powerful march in the first movement. It starts with a single drum beat and a toy-like tune from the woodwind, growing more and more menacing as the music progresses, until danger sirens sound in the brass and the tune becomes a hideous parody of itself.
Dedicated to Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, Johann Strauss I composed this march in 1848. It's now a firm favourite at the New Year's Day Concert in Vienna, where it's often performed as an encore, and the audience clap along to the lively rhythm.
Originally known as The Granadeer's March, this brilliant tune is the official traditional marching song for any British military regiment whose badge of identification carries the grenade. It's now a popular favourite among marching bands, thanks to its rousing melody and booming drums.