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Radetzky March, Op. 228, is a march composed by Johann Strauss Sr. in 1848. It was dedicated to the Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz and soon became quite popular among regimented marching soldiers. It has been remarked that its tone is more celebratory than martial; Strauss was commissioned to write the piece to commemorate Radetsky's victory at the Battle of Custoza.
For the trio, Strauss used an older folk melody called "Alter Tanz aus Wien“ or "Tinerl-Lied“ (Tinerl was a popular singer of the day) which was originally in 3/4 time. When Radetzky came back to Vienna after winning the battle of Custoza (1848), his soldiers were singing the then-popular song. Allegedly Strauss heard this singing and incorporated the melody, converted to 2/4 time, into the Radetzky March.
When it was first played in front of Austrian officers, they spontaneously clapped and stamped their feet when they heard the chorus. This tradition, with quiet rhythmic clapping on the first iteration of the melody, followed by thunderous clapping on the second, is kept alive today by audience members who know the custom when the march is played in classical music venues in Vienna. The march is almost always played as the last piece at the Neujahrskonzert (New Year's Concert) of the Vienna Philharmonic. The orchestra did not play the Radetzky March on 1 January 2005, because of overwhelmiing losses due to the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean a few days before.
The Radetzky March consists of three main parts:
- The introduction: the whole orchestra plays and the brass section carries the melody.
- The first figure: played by the string section.
- At figure two, the whole orchestra plays until figure three, when it repeats back to the D.S. (first figure).
- The trio: played by the brass section, with the trumpet playing three triplets in the last bars.
- Figure five: the whole orchestra plays.
- Figure six: the whole orchestra plays and then repeats back to figure five.
- The orchestra plays until the last bar, then returns to the D.C. (beginning).
- The orchestra plays until figure three, finishing with the Fine ("end") bar—i.e., the direction is Da capo al fine (repeat from beginning up to the word Fine).
Since 1896, this has been the official presentation march of the Chilean Army's Military School of the Liberator Bernardo O'Higgins. The 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards of the United Kingdom adopted the Radetzky March as its regimental quick march.
Jeroen H.C. Tempelman, "On the Radetzky March", Vienna Music, no. 99 (Summer 2000), pp. 12–13
- "Radetzky March" Complete orchestral score: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- "Radetzkymarsch" (mp3pro, 1.24 MB).  Liedertafel.[dead link]
- Alter Tanz aus Wien, a Radetzkymarsch trio adaptation (sheet music)
- "Radetzky Marsch, Neujahrskonzert 2009, conducted by Daniel Barenboim".