Rouget de l’Isle or Lisle, Claude-Joseph

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Rouget de l’Isle or Lisle, Claude-Joseph

Rouget de l’Isle or Lisle, Claude-Joseph , French poet and composer; b. Lons-le-Saunier, Jura, May 10, 1760; d. Choisy-le-Roy, June 27, 1836. He composed the music to the Chant de guerre pour l’armée du Rhin in 1792, while stationed in Strasbourg as a military engineer; it was known for a time as the Marseillais’ Hymn and finally acquired the popular designation of the Marseillaise, having been taken up by the Marseilles soldiers marching toward Paris. Rouget de l’Isle was not a revolutionary; he was in fact imprisoned for refusing to take the oath against the crown. After his release, he rejoined the army. The Marseillaise was then authorized as the national song in 1795. However, it fell out of favor during the years of the Empire and the Restoration. Rouget de l’Isle spent many years in poverty until the Marseillaise regained its place during the July Revolution of 1830 and he was granted a pension by Louis-Philippe. In 1879 it became the official French national anthem. Rouget de l’Isle was honored with reburial in the Invalides in Paris on Bastille Day (July 14, 1915). He also composed a Hymne dithyrambique sur la conjuration de Robespierre (1794), Chant des vengeances (1798), and a Chant du combat for the army in Egypt (1800). He publ, 50 Chants français in 1825, and also wrote several opera librettos.


J. Tiersot, R. d. l’Isle: Son oeuvre, sa vie (Paris, 1892); A. Köckert, R. d. l’Isle (Leipzig, 1898); A. Lanier, R. d. l’Isle (Besançon, 1907); J. Tiersot, Histoire de la Marseillaise (Paris, 1915); R. Brancour, La Marseillaise et le Chant du départ (1916); A. Becker, La Marseillaise (Braunschweig, 1930); G. de Froidcourt, Grétry, R. d. Lisle et la Marseillaise (Liège, 1945).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire