Giuseppe Donizetti (1788–1856) has fared even less well than Michael Haydn as a brother of a much more gifted and celebrated man. Like Pezzini, Giuseppe was a bandmaster, although, on the strength of the present piece, does not seem totally unworthy of a place by brother Gaetano’s side. But it was at Napoleon’s side in a military capacity that Giuseppe made his career. Having developed an interest in things Turkish, he moved to Istanbul in 1828, was granted the title Pasha, and founded the court orchestra ‘Mizikay-i Hümayun’. The Grande Marche
was composed for the coronation of Sultan Abdülmecid-Khan in 1839, and for some decades became the national anthem of the Ottoman Empire. Liszt composed his version when he visited and was decorated by the Sultan at Istanbul-Büyükdere in 1847. (The present writer is indebted to the Turkish composer-pianist Aydin Karlibel for his kind assistance with some of this information.) Liszt’s piece, originally entitled Grande Paraphrase de la Marche de Giuseppe Donizetti composée pour Sa Majesté le Sultan Abdul Médjid-Khan
, is splendid of its kind, and well worth rescuing from oblivion.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996