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Remember yesterday I said that the middle (6/8) section of Mère Gigogne in The Nutcracker just ‘had to be’ a French song? Well, I’ve found it, thanks to a post by Jeanne on a homeschooling site.  It’s Cadet Rousselle a trois garçons. Like so many French songs, it’s got that weird long anacrusis (like the children’s galop), which I have discovered, since writing this post, should probably be called “Franco-Italian hypermeter” (see this post)   I’m afraid once you’ve heard the French version, it’s quite disturbing to go back and hear the Tchaikovsky which sounds as if the tune starts on ‘1’ (it doesn’t though).

Cadet Rousselle was a real person (see wikipedia page on him) and the song, originally a satire about Rouselle, got taken up as a marching song by the Armée du Nord and was reportedly well known in France. Most interestingly, Bax, Bridge and Ireland wrote a set of variations on the theme, which was later orchestrated by Eugene Goossens. [Click to hear/buy it on Amazon]

For more Nutcracker borrowings and oddities, see yesterday’s list of Nutcracker posts on my site.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist