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Johan Halvorsen Composer

Entry March of the Boyars

Performances: 16
Tracks: 16
  • Entry March of the Boyars
    Year: 1895
    Genre: Other Orchestral
    Pr. Instrument: Orchestra
Like Borodin's orchestral sketch In the Steppes of Central Asia and Debussy's Fêtes (the second of his Nocturnes (3)), Johan Halvorsen's brilliant orchestral piece Entry March of the Boyars is an example of what might be termed spatial orchestral writing. The other two examples mentioned above each convey to the listener the vivid impression of an army approaching, passing by the full gaze of a crowd of onlookers, and then passing off the scene into the distance. Halvorsen's piece, however, while similarly complex in its thematic structuring, abruptly ends just as the parade draws adjacent to the crowd. Halvorsen makes no attempt at depicting the soldiers passing into the distance, something Debussy's Fêtes memorably achieves. Bojarenes inntogsmasrj (to give the piece its Norwegian title) opens with a softly enunciated theme on solo clarinet, played very quietly at first, and sounding as if it were coming from a considerable distance. Next, Halvorsen creates the impression of the approaching parade by simply adding succeeding instruments to the texture until the full brass section presents a stirring march theme fortissimo. A jaunty new idea soon follows in the upper strings, later embellished by lively woodwind figurations, until a side-drum tattoo summons a fresh call to attention. This leads back to the main march theme on full brass before a new digression announces a polka-like idea played by the violins. As this closes, the music leads back to a restatement of the opening, softly played clarinet solo and a block repeat of most of the first section of the work, virtually unaltered in its scoring. The piece ends with the main brass idea on which this orchestral march is largely based. Entry March of the Boyars is almost certainly Halvorsen's most popular work, though his output also includes three symphonies and a considerable number of Norwegian dances and rhapsodies. The Boyars, however, had no Scandinavian connections, but were a famous military division drawn from the Russian nobility. It seems that Halvorsen got the idea for this work after reading historical accounts of their campaigns during the early 1890s. Entry March of the Boyars, published in 1895, and been a popular orchestral favorite ever since and one of the best-known examples of Scandinavian orchestral music in a lighter vein.

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