The Funeral Marches

Marcia Funebre No. 13, Sulla tomba d'un amico, Op. 163, PP.145.10

Marcia Funebre No. 13, Sulla tomba d'un amico is one of only three pieces published during Ponchielli's time as capobanda in Piacenza or Cremona. While the published score dedicated "alla memoria di mio padre - to the memory of my father" was known to Dr. Sirch when she compiled her thematic catalog in 1987, recent searches in the Biblioteca Statale have since brought forth an autograph with the heading "Sulla tomba d'un amico - At the grave of a friend." The principal differences between the two sources are dynamics (more subdued in the printed version) and a single chord on the downbeat of measure 10. The detail in the autograph is such that it is the model for this edition. The added chord is likely something that Ponchielli added from the podium upon first rehearsals - it does make this march easier to perform while on the march. The autograph score is very clear with few hesitations or misaligned part assignments. The three-part tuba writing is still to be found in the March while the Trio (now Maggiore) has a more open voicing. The sadness in the March is more restrained than before, perhaps less self-pitying. The Maggiore has a jaunty air from the clarinet filigrees.

No. 13 also represents a new form to the funeral march - one that can only end in the Maggiore section as the end of the March is a transition and has no final cadence. In this regard, Ponchielli presages both Sulla Tomba di Garibaldi and Elegia funebre in onore di Felice Frasi which both are funeral marches of this new type. As noted elsewhere, the Marcia Funebre per I funerali di Manzoni is an aesthetic funeral march and can end only at the end of the March.

As for the "missing" marches - they may have already turned up in the stacks of the Biblioteca Statale. A review of these archives by Dr. Raffaella Barbierato may have found all of the numbers "1" through "14;" however, only Ponchielli's arrangement of the funeral march from Beethoven's Opus 26 Piano Sonata has been documented.

Date on score: December 13, 1869

Performances: None can be ascertained

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