As far as I know this is still the only place on the web you'll find sheet music to La Marseillaise. It can no longer claim to be the only place for an English translation - there's one at http://www.elysee.fr/president/la-presidence/les-symboles-de-la-republique-francaise/la-marseilllaise/la-marseillaise-de-rouget-de-lisle.637.html, which I discuss in my other translations section and many more have sprung up since these pages were first written. In any case, here's the story of this nonetheless near legendary site.
It all started back in early 1996. Don't ask me why - I can't remember - but I wanted a transcription of La Marseillaise and I thought I'd have a good chance of finding one on some web page or other.
I was mistaken.
No site I could find had a transcription but in the end I was able to get hold of the sheet music thanks to a book I found in the Birmingham Central Library called National Anthems of the World. I decided I could set up my own Marseillaise site for the benefit of anyone else who might want a transcription, so I photocopied the book, scanned in the photocopies, and put them on to my web page. Humble beginnings indeed for a work of reference.
Later that month I came across Christian Scherer's AdmiNet site with its listing of the song's words. I decided I'd have a crack at translating them into English. Now my site had the sheet music and a translation. By now I had the idea that I could actually make a proper go at doing a Marseillaise site. I found a MIDI file and a bit of history from other sites. By 1997 people started to e-mail me, saying how cool they thought it was to do a translation of the French national anthem, and even saying I'd done a reasonable job. Positive feedback is always encouraging (unless you're a physicist) and I started to hatch plans for the site. I dug out audio files in several formats and uploaded them to the Geocities server. Unfortunately study concerns caught up with me and I found I had no time to update my pages. Those audio files were there for months before I even wrote a link to them!
Then in June 1998, inbetween watching the World Cup, I decided that enough was enough and that I'd have to start implementing all the suggestions I'd received. Serious work on the site started on June 22nd, the day England lost pitifully to Romania 2-1.
About Iain Patterson
So just who is this character who's devoted considerable time and effort to bringing you this site?
I'm Iain Patterson, a one time student of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Birmingham who had the opportunity to take a year (only one, sadly) of Langues Étrangères Appliquées at the Université Lumière in Lyon and who later worked in the IT industry.
Such credentials are, I vainly think, appropriate for translation work. As for my choice of La Marseillaise, this may lead you to think that I'm a francophile. Not really. Although I enjoyed my time there I am not completely infatuated with France. Indeed, certain aspects of that fine country really get on my nerves. I just like the song.
You can see more of my IT stuff at my home page, should you so desire.
Many many (many) people have written to me over the years. I try to respond to every email I get. I don't always succeed; if you have written to me and not received a reply please accept my apologies. Just some of the people I'd like to thank for contacting me are:
Caen Memorial for Peace Museum firstname.lastname@example.org
For allowing me to host their translation.
For an interseting commentary on variations on lyrics.
Mave the Rave
For sending a recording of Mireille Mathieu's rendition of the song.
For pointing out an horrendous, juvenile schoolboy type error that I made in my translation. Cheers Bill.
For pointing out some typos.
For his help in finding a MIDI file.
For recommending a page with the sheet music and words.
Ronald A. Fournier
For giving me the idea to update my backround section.
For putting up the link most of you've followed.
For submitting the Babelfish translation.
For setting me an interesting challenge - to find French songs suitable for 11 year-olds.
For recommending Berlioz's grandiose rendition, and for his kind comments.
For comments regarding my GIF files and for an entertaining (and heated) debate on the merits (or lack of same) of America On-Line and the French and Croatian football teams.
A J Ryan email@example.com
Stéphane Jahn firstname.lastname@example.org
Stéphane Roussan email@example.com
Lou Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Varra email@example.com
For just writing to me with comments. I like people who write to me.
And some apologies
Prof. F-J Meissner
I couldn't find a Dutch or German translation, much less do one.
Geri and ray
I didn't sing as they would have liked!
I didn't know where to find an MP3 of Il est vraiment phénoménal
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