Marche funèbre d’une marionnette (translated Funeral March of a Marionette), CG 583, was originally composed for solo piano by Charles Gounod. While residing in London, England, between 1871 and 1872, Gounod started to write a suite for piano called Suite burlesque. After completing this piece, he abandoned the rest of the suite. In 1879, he orchestrated the piece and re-released it.
Alfred Hitchcock heard the music in the 1927 film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. In 1955, when choosing the theme music for his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he remembered the effect that Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette had on him and selected it. It was through Hitchcock’s program that the music achieved its widest audience. The series continued for ten years, and the theme music appeared in five versions, the last version being arranged by Bernard Herrmann, who transposed the piece up a third from its original D minor.
Intermediate level students will get experience with slurs and staccato, 6/8 time, sforzando, extreme dynamic changes.
While the piece is an excellent Halloween selection, it is a suitable performance piece for any time of the year.
Key: D minor
Mood: anxious, scary
Pedagogy: 6/8 time, sforzando, fingering, dynamic changes, staccato, slurs.