Though other National Anthems are similar to hymns, the French National Anthem "La Marseillaise" is a march. Perhaps this is because its composer, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836), served as an officer in the French Army. The piece was written in 1792 and became known as "La Marseillaise" later that year when it was adopted by the National Guard of Marseille. It became France's National Anthem in 1795 though for periods it was banned, notably during Napoleon's time. Some later French composers have made orchestral arrangements of the anthem, such as Hector Berlioz. The melody was used by Tchaikovsky in his 1812 overture to signify Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and in the same work he quotes from the Russian National Anthem even though neither of these anthems were in use by these countries in 1812. Some listeners have commented that there is a resemblance between "La Marseillaise" and one of the themes in the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.25 in C major (K.503) written in 1786. The resemblance is small (the opening notes of the Anthem) and could simply be coincidence. However some pianists playfully surprise audiences with a longer quotation during the soloist's cadenza near the end of the movement. A famous pop-song which quotes from La Marseillaise is the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love".
The arrangement of "La Marseillaise" presented here is for piano and can be played as a solo, or used as an accompaniment for singers and other musical instruments. The Anthems of other selected countries can be found in our article National Anthems and Patriotic Songs.
The audio controls below allow you to play the mp3 version of La Marseillaise for piano or you can download the MP3 file. You can also download the midi version of La Marseillaise for piano or alternatively edit/play the midi file.
The image below is the first page of the sheet music, and here you can download the full sheet music for La Marseillaise for piano in PDF format.