Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle - Encyclopedia


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CLAUDE JOSEPH ROUGET DE LISLE (1760-1836), French author, was born on the 10th of May 1760, at Lons-le-Saunier (Jura). He entered the army as an engineer, and attained the rank of captain. He was one of those authors whom a single work has made famous. The song which has immortalized him the Marseillaise, was composed at Strassburg, where Rouget de Lisle was quartered in April 1792. He wrote both words and music in a fit of patriotic excitement after a public dinner. The piece was at first called Chant de guerre de l'armee du Rhin, and only received its name of Marseillaise from its adoption by the Provençal volunteers whom Barbaroux introduced into Paris, and who were prominent in the storming of the Tuileries. The author was a moderate republican, and was cashiered and thrown into prison; but the counter-revolution set him at liberty. He died at Choisy-le-Roi (Seine et Oise) on the 26th of June 1836. The stirring melody of the Marseillaise and its ingenious adaptation to the words serve to disguise the alternate poverty and bombast of the words themselves. Rouget de Lisle wrote a few other songs of the same kind, and in 1825 he published Chants frangais, in which he set to music fifty songs by various authors. His Essais en vers et en prose (1797) contains the Marseillaise, a prose tale of the sentimental kind called Adelaide et Monville, and some occasional poems.

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