We hear the army in the distance (ppp, misterioso); it comes nearer, surges past us and marches away into the distance (pppp)—the same genre as Michaelis’s Turkish Patrol
and the evergreen Beethoven–Rubinstein Turkish March
—without the Turks but more arresting. The title page of the music relates the story behind its composition: ‘In one of those drawing-rooms where agreeable conversation on Music and Art alternates with the Dance, it happened that there was a reading from Ossian, of whom a distinguished General was a great admirer. Gottschalk was also there. Inspired and filled with poetic thought, he takes his seat at the piano. In spirit he sees Fingal and his companions. The host of heroes passes before him. The piano responds to his touch, and the whole poetic dream is set before us. We listen. The war phalanx descends from the heights. On the way where the heroes pass there is a sound of revelry. A happy company makes the darkness light with their rejoicing. To them comes the marching host. They approach! Behold them in their might! They tarry not! As softly as a silver cloud passes, they glide away. Shall we ever forget them?’ This is a fine entertainment—yet it is never heard in concert.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 1994