Radetzky March

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Radetzky March by Johann Strauss Sr, cover sheet, 1848

Radetzky March, Op. 228, is a march composed by Johann Strauss Sr. and dedicated to Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. First performed on 31 August 1848 in Vienna, it soon became quite popular among regimented marching soldiers, it has been remarked that its tone is more celebratory than martial; Strauss was commissioned to write the piece to commemorate Radetzky's victory at the Battle of Custoza.


Strauss had already used the famous theme in his Jubel-Quadrille, Op. 130; the upbeat bears considerable resemblance to the second theme from the Allegro in Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 100 composed in 1794. The striking rhythmic pattern—three anapaests, one iamb—has since then been popularised by numerous parody versions.[1]

Field Marshal Radetzky, about 1850

For the trio, Strauss used an older folk melody called Alter Tanz aus Wien or Tinerl-Lied (Tinerl was a popular Viennese songstress of the day) which was originally in 3/4 time; when Radetzky came back to Vienna after winning the battle of Custoza (1848), his soldiers were singing the then-popular song. Allegedly Strauss heard this singing and incorporated the melody, converted to 2/4 time, into the Radetzky March.[2]


Along with the Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss Jr., the piece became an unofficial Austrian national anthem. In 1932 Joseph Roth published his novel Radetzky March, chronicling the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Up to today, the theme is used in numerous promotional jingles and at major sport events, in particular at football matches of the Austrian national team.[3]

When it was first played in front of Austrian officers, they spontaneously clapped and stamped their feet when they heard the chorus; this tradition, with quiet rhythmic clapping on the first iteration of the melody, followed by thunderous clapping on the second, is kept alive today by audience members who know the custom when the march is played in classical music venues in an orchestral version prepared by Leopold Weninger (1879–1940). Conductors take great delight in conducting the audience, as much as the orchestra, with great gusto, it is always played as the jubilant last piece at the New Year's Concert (Neujahrskonzert) of the Vienna Philharmonic.[4]

Since 1896, the Radetzky has been the official presentation march of the Chilean Army's Military School of the Liberator Bernardo O'Higgins; the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards of the United Kingdom adopted the Radetzky March as its regimental quick march.[5]

In Serbia the piece had a negative reception due to its status as the unofficial anthem of the Austro-Hungarian military. Traditionally, the dislike towards the piece was shown by not clapping during the composition and receiving it in silence. While this has lessened recently, the antipathy towards the piece stemmed from the crimes against civilians committed by Austro-Hungarian Army during the incursion in 1914 and the occupation 1915-1918;[6] the antipathy is stronger in Vojvodina, a former part of Austria-Hungary, where Serbs faced internment camps during World War One (also see List of concentration and internment camps#Austria-Hungary). The case is also not helped by the fact that Radetzky was an adjunct of Ernst Gideon von Laudon during the Siege of Belgrade (1789) and the subsequent period of occupation (see Habsburg-occupied Serbia (1788-92);[7] this period led to a great disappointment in the prospect of Serbian liberation and unification under Habsburg rule, even with committed service in the Free Corps and the Habsburg armies.[8]

Piece parts[edit]

The Radetzky March consists of three main parts:

  • The introduction: the whole orchestra plays and the brass section carries the melody.
  • The first figure: played by the string section.
  • At figure two: the whole orchestra plays until figure three, when it repeats back to the D.S. (first figure).
  • The trio: played by the brass section, with the trumpet playing three sixteenth notes in the last bars.
  • Figure five: the whole orchestra plays.
  • Figure six: the whole orchestra plays and then repeats back to figure five.
  • The orchestra plays until the last bar, then returns to the D.C. (beginning).
  • The orchestra plays until figure three, finishing with the Fine ("end") bar—i.e., the direction is Da capo al fine (repeat from beginning up to the word Fine).


  1. ^ "Radetzky March, Johan Straus Rock Parody". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Alter Tanz aus Wien (Tinerllied) - Noten aus dem Repertoire". www.stammtischmusik.at. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Radetzky Marsch - Austria-Montenegro football". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  4. ^ "New Year's Day Concert". BBC. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  5. ^ "1st The Queens Dragoon Guards (Welsh Cavalry)". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  6. ^ "The war crimes of the Habsburg army. Between soldateska and court martial". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Srbi 1. januara uživaju uz "Radecki marš" iz Beča, ali naši preci se prevrću u grobu". www.telegraf.rs. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  8. ^ Rajić, Suzana, "Serbia – the revival of the nation-state, 1804–1829: From Turkish provinces to autonomous principality. In Plamen Mitev (2010) Empires and Peninsulas: Southeastern Europe Between Karlowitz and the Peace of Adrianople, 1699–1829. Münster: LIT Verlag, p. 144.


Jeroen H.C. Tempelman, "On the Radetzky March", Vienna Music, no. 99 (Summer 2000), pp. 12–13

External links[edit]