INFE Tribute: How did “Te Deum” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier become Eurovision’s hymn

INFE Tribute: How did “Te Deum” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier become Eurovision’s hymn

The discovery of a lost work for centuries

In 1953 the French musicologist Carl de Nys discovered in the National Library of Paris a forgotten manuscript (Rés. Vm1 259), on which was written a polyphonic motete (H. 146, the number in the list of works) in 11 parts titled “Te Deum”, of the also forgotten French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704).

Mark Antoine Sarandie, a famous composer at the time, personal composer of Maria of Lorraine, Duchess of Giz and  the son of Ludwig the 14th , and a collaborator of Moliere, Corneille and De Vise, composed more than 500 works (opera compositions, biblical tragedies, theatrical music, ballet, comic ballets, intermedia, religious music, etc.), however, he published only a few of them and somehow fell into obscurity until De Nys accidentally discovered his 28 autograph volumes of compositions, with the general title Meslanges.


When was the play written and performed?

  The work was written between 1688 and 1698 when Charpentier was a music director at Saint-Louis’s Jesuit Church in Paris and was presented for the first time either to commemorate the French victory  in the Battle of Steenkerque in 1692, or the celebration of the Turin Treaty in 1696. Written on a “triumph” musical scale (major scale of Re), the work includes a small orchestra, namely two flutes, two oboe, a trumpet, a low trumpet, two violins, two violes and a short bass, a fourth choir and five soloists (two soprano, alto, tenor, bass).

The first recording and the triumphal acceptance

The first recording was made in 1953, orchestrated by Guy Lambert and directed by Louis Martini. The Concerts Pasdeloup room orchestra played  while the Jeunesses musicales de France sung. The album’s resonance was so great, and the reviews were dithyrambic that the EBU adopted the first eight meters of the marche en rondeau (prelude), the opening part of the suite, establishing it as the hymn of all Eurovision broadcasts and the Song Contest.

source: INFE Greece- Dimitros Mantzilas

Angelo D.

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