The Funeral Marches

Marcia Funebre No. 6, Per i funerali di Francesco Lucca, op. 112a, Ms. Civ. 87

Marcia Funebre No. 6 exists also in an autograph score for orchestra located in the Ricordi Archive located in Milan's Braidense Library. The "a" version for band is undated, though the physical appearance of the score is consistent with others produced during the post-1875 period when Raffaele Coppola was the bandmaster after Ponchielli. The orchestral score notes that the march itself dates from 1866 from Cremona and that the city band of Milan performed it at Lucca's funeral. The extant score lacks the E-flat cornet part from Ponchielli's era; however, this is seen in other "Coppola-era" scores when the practice of using a student on a simplified part had been dropped.

This march is notable among the funeral marches as its character is more like an "aesthetic" funeral march in its character. Francesco Lucca (1802-1872) was Ponchielli's publisher up to 1875 when Ponchielli moved to Ricordi. While no autograph of a band version by Ponchielli exists, it is safe to assume that this "copy" reflects the original band score that was lost or used to destruction. The restraint of emotion in this march bespeaks a formality missing from other "Cremona" marches. With Beethoven as a model, each repetition of the theme is accompanied by a gradually more complex background. Also, as in the other funeral marches, the "open" instrumentation suggested by the orchestrations of the quickstep marches is confined to the Trio section.

Recent developments in the reappearance of "lost" Ponchielli autograph scores now leads me to think that this worthy march was the one composed for Bishop Antonio Novasconi, in 1867. Given its grace and solemnity, this march seems the best candidate among the extant marches. Novasconi was a forestieri, born in in the province of Lodi, about forty miles away. The band's participation in this funeral was quite surprising, owing to the heavy anti-clerical leanings of the independence movement - the destruction of the church and monastery of St. Dominic was a prime example. The documents in the Archivio di stato in Cremona identify Cesare Malossi as paying eighty lira for the band's appearance. Malossi was a priest and native Cremonese. While the full politics of this arrangement can never be known, it may be assumed that old friendships were the critical factor.

A brief editorial note: All dynamics and articulations after measure 20 are editorial.

Date on score: None Given. Orchestral score indicates that march originated in 1866

Performances: None can be ascertained.

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