Spohr’s memoirs go into some detail about the genesis of the Festmarsch
in D major, WoO3. It was written along with the opera Der Berggeist
for the marriage of the Kassel electoral prince’s daughter, Princess Marie, to Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Meiningen on 23 March 1825. Spohr says that the march was played as the newly married couple and the wedding guests moved in procession from the banqueting hall to the White Saloon, to be immediately encored. Spohr was required to incorporate an old German dance tune, the Großvatertanz
(‘Grandfather’s Dance’), that was particularly associated with marriage—this tune was also used by Schumann in his piano pieces Papillons
. Spohr, even in such a slight piece composed for a one-off occasion, does not allow his standards to drop. After a rousing opening on full orchestra the strings continue the march rhythm, but the woodwind introduce the ‘Grandfather’ tune in 6/4 time and, when this later reappears reinforced with trumpets and drums, they add a cheeky little four-bar pendant.
from notes by Keith Warsop © 2012
Chairman, Spohr Society of Great Britain