Napoleon (Soundtrack from the Apple Original Film)

Napoleon (Soundtrack from the Apple Original Film)

The celebrated film director Ridley Scott brings Napoleon Bonaparte’s life to the screen in the 2023 biopic that couples his political and literal battles with his obsession with Josephine—his lover, wife and Empress. Martin Phipps’ score plays a large part in highlighting Napoleon’s complex character, riffing on his simple Corsican origins with a folk-song-style melody that permeates the whole soundtrack. It’s first heard on the Erard fortepiano that Napoleon gave as a wedding gift to his second wife Marie Louise (and which now lives in London’s Museum of Music History). Phipps then passes the melody to trumpet, Corsican singers, accordion and early plucked string instruments. Elsewhere, Phipps sticks to his theme of a rough-edged hero, with Ensemble Organum adding a blood-curdling earthiness to “Austerlitz Kyrie” and “Downfall”. And in the final “Bonaparte’s Lament”, the Corsican singers return the defeated Napoleon to his island roots. There is even a nod to Beethoven in “First Counsel”, reflecting the composer’s short-lived admiration for the French leader.

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