Turkish March (Beethoven)

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This article is about the classical piece by Beethoven. For the third movement of Sonata No. 11 ("Turkish March") by Mozart, see Piano Sonata No. 11 (Mozart).

The Turkish March (Marcia alla turca) is a well-known classical march theme by Ludwig van Beethoven. It was written in the Turkish style popular in music of the time.

The theme was first used in Beethoven's "6 Variations on an Original Theme", Op. 76, of 1809. In 1811 Beethoven wrote an overture and incidental music to a play by August von Kotzebue called The Ruins of Athens (Op. 113), which premiered in Pest in 1812. The Turkish March appears as item No. 4 of the incidental music. Many music lovers associate the theme with The Ruins of Athens, although that was not its original appearance.

The march is in B flat major, tempo vivace and 2/4 time. Its dynamic scheme is highly suggestive of a procession passing by, starting out pianissimo, poco a poco rising to a fortissimo climax and then receding back to pianissimo by the coda. Unlike much of Beethoven's other orchestral music, the woodwinds are the dominant voice rather than the strings.

Derivative works[edit]

Franz Liszt wrote a piano transcription in 1846, "Capriccio alla turca sur des motifs de Beethoven" (S. 388).

Anton Rubinstein arranged a popular piano version[1] of the march in B flat major, tempo Allegretto. Sergei Rachmaninoff further arranged Rubinstein's version, heard on piano roll (1928).

A electronic version by electronic music pioneers Perrey and Kingsley was used as theme for the series El Chavo del Ocho in 1971.


  1. ^ Alexander Shealy (1970). Beethoven: His Greatest Piano Solos, Volume 1. Copa Publishing Co; Ashley Publications, Inc. pp. 44–47. ISBN 0-8256-5137-9. 

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