Playing Bony's Tune

Alyn Shipton explores the changing sounds, styles and functions of music from the eve of the French Revolution to the fall of Napoleon.


01One Regime Falls2004092820050103

As the regime of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette ends, new songs are heard in the streets of PARIS and on the battlefields of Europe.

Opera composers such as Gretry find their arias adopted and adapted by both Royalists and Republicans and there's a new spirit of participation in mass public musical events, the Revolutionary Fetes.

Includes contributions from Antonia Fraser, historian Tim Blanning and Laura Mason, author of Singing the Revolution.

02Out With The Old, In With... The Old2004100520050110

Napoleon's personal taste was for the music of his youth, inspiring marches and the 'ice-cream arias' of Italy.

He recognised the importance of the opera houses and the conservatoire and he clearly appreciated the propaganda value of the arts, employing musicians from the conquered territories of Italy and Austria as readily as he filled the Louvre with appropriated artefacts.

Includes contributions from Alan Forrest, David Gates, Jean Mongredien, Elizabeth Bartlet and Michael Fend.

03 LASTA Hero's Fall And Rise2004101220050117

Following Napoleon's coronation in 1804, the mood within and towards FRANCE began to change.

This was reflected in popular ballads, opera and concert music, with Beethoven famously deleting the dedication of his Eroica Symphony to Napoleon.

But with the Emperor's fall after Waterloo came a further shift in attitude and a romantic rehabilitation of the 'memory of a great man' expressed both in the music of Berlioz and in the surviving folk songs of the period.

With contributions from Vic Gammon, David Cairns, Tim Blanning, Jean Mongredien and Elizabeth Bartlet.