March Madness! The Sweetest Sixteen

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is in full-swing and -- like in the world of college basketball -- the sound of marches is in the air. We're bracketing out 16 of the best. Using the list below as a guide, give us your 'final four' favorite marches in the comments box below. We'll play your picks throughout the NCAA tournament.

The West Regional (Pre-1850)

Berlioz: La damnation de Faust: Marche Hongroise

Chopin – Funeral March from the Piano Sonata #2

Strauss, Sr: Radetzky March

Mendelssohn: Midsummer Night’s Dream - Wedding Ma

The East Regional (1890-1950)

Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D

Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever

Sousa: Liberty Bell

Prokofiev: Love for Three Oranges - March

The South Regional (1850-1900)

Liszt: Rákóczi March from the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15

Tchaikovsky: Marche Slave

Verdi: Aida - Triumphal March

Wagner: Lohengrin - Wedding March

The Midwest Regional (1950-present)

Rodgers: The King and I - March of the Siamese Children

Walton: Crown Imperial (rev. 1953)

Williams: Empire Strikes Back - Imperial Death March

Williams: Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Raider’s March


What's in a March?

Just like basketball is defined by dunks, free-throw lines and zone defense, marches have their own categories and lingo. The New Grove Dictionary defines the march as "music with strong repetitive rhythms and an uncomplicated style usually used to accompany orderly military movements and processions."

There are marches for processionals and coronations, funerals and dancing. Mozart wrote one for priests in The Magic Flute. Some marches, such as those of Turkey and Russia, were designed to scare the enemy in battle. But the march also has a prominent place in the mainstream of classical music, jazz and rock, not to mention the music of Asia, South America and beyond. Discover more in our 2010 series "Hot Air."

Above: New York's Asphalt Orchestra strikes a pose (Photo: Stephanie Berger)

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Comments [28]

I didn't see the Turkish March from Ruins of Athens on the list.

Mar. 26 2012 06:15 PM

How about the Turkish March from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens?

Mar. 26 2012 06:11 PM
Barbara T. from Mahwah, N J

Marches are probably the first music heard and remembered as a child--what would a parade be without them?

Sousa "Stars and Stripes Forever"
Sousa "Liberty Bell"
Elgar "Pomp and Circumstance March" (How could we graduate without it?)
Tchaikowsky "March Slav

Mar. 26 2012 04:13 PM
AL from ROCKAWAY NJ

I ENJOYED ALL THE COMMENTS FROM YOUR MANY KNOWLEDGEABLE LISTENERS.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK WQXR.

Mar. 26 2012 09:04 AM
Leonard DeToma from Old Bridge NJ

Working strictly from your selections, my votes are for:

Radetzky
Liberty Bell (Sousa and Monty Python - what a combination)
Wedding March from Lohengrin
Raider's of the Lost Ark

Although if I had my druthers, I would write in Funeral March of the Marionettes

Mar. 24 2012 03:03 PM
Ted Hunter from NJ

First, someone suggested Colonel Bogey, but why not the actual River Kwai March, or the superposition of the two? Also favorites include The French National Defile March (used by Ohio State Marching Band (TBDBITL) for their script Ohio formation, Marche Lorraine (de Lisle?),Le Legion Etager or other French marches (played by French Bands!) Or any of the other 150 military marches I have recordings of! Love band marches.

Mar. 24 2012 10:10 AM
John Flory from Morristown, NJ

Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever leaves me weepie eyed.
I remember the high school band playing this as the American Legion marched to the city cemetery om Memorial Day in the early 50s, and my dad, a World War I veteran was among them.
This year, for the first time in maybe 60 years, I am going back home to attend the Memorial Day ceremony.
And I will probably break down in tears.

Mar. 23 2012 10:39 PM

Bet you can't GUESS what I wanna hear.....OK...My TOP 4 MARCHES...(1) SOUSA- ''STARS & STRIPES FOREVER''( The most rousing march EVER written!) (2) SOUSA- ''LIBERTY BELL MARCH'' (SECOND most rousing march ever written!) (3) TCHAIKOVSKY- ''MARCH SLAVE'' (Best ''classical'' march...moving, melodic with a bombastic ending) and (4) STRAUSS-''RADETSKY MARCH''....(Great bounce that a great march needs!) THANKYOU WOXR FOR MARCH MUSIC APPRECIATION!

Mar. 23 2012 08:57 PM
David S Bundler

Good Evening, for number 1, I would like to offer a funeral march for a certain marionette, followed by Berlioz's March to the Scaffold, then to keep the music in the same spirit, the wedding marches from Lohengrin, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I would have suggested the March of the Wooden Soldiers; but both they, and the boogiemen, give me nightmares.

Mar. 23 2012 07:49 PM
caesar j.warrick from playland boardwalk, Rye New York

March Of The Wooden Soldiers From Babes In Toy Land and Col. Bogie March From Bridge On the River Kwai.Great Marches. See Ya Soon. Right now I've got to march on out of here Bye,,C.J.W

Mar. 23 2012 06:45 PM
Esther from Brooklyn, NY

Does it have to be an orchestra? I'd vote for Schubert's "Marche Militaire" for the piano.

Mar. 23 2012 06:24 PM
maddy from new york city

Put in another vote for Liszt's Rakoczi March.
How about the Soldiers Chorus from Gounod's Faust?

Mar. 23 2012 06:09 PM
Charles Kellert from New York, NY

For the Midwest Regional:

Richard Rodgers - "Victory March" from "Victory at Sea", as rousing as a Sousa march and with severalthemes, some later incorporated into other pieces.

Mar. 23 2012 05:36 PM
Mike Robbins from NYC

Who will ever forget the march from "Norma" played by Lester Lanin at Princeton Houseparties?

Mar. 23 2012 04:36 PM
Peter J. Mueller from St. Louis

From your list, my favorites would be:

Mendelssohn: Midsummer Night’s Dream - Wedding March
Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever
Strauss, Sr: Radetzky March

For the fourth, and my Cinderella team:

Herbert: March of the Toys

Mar. 23 2012 04:34 PM
judydb from long island

Handel's march from Saul
Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance #1
March from Raiders of the Lost Ark
Grand March- Aida by Verdi

Mar. 23 2012 04:27 PM
Wendy D'Lugin from Manhattan

Strauss-Radetsky Marc
Rodgers-March of the Siamese Children
Elgar-Pomp and Circumstranc
Sousa-Stars and Stripes Forever

Mar. 23 2012 08:32 AM
Nancy Passow from Englewood, NJ

Based on the sixteen marches listed above, my final four are:

Sousa, Stars & Stripes Forever (loved playing the piccolo part in my high school band, both marching & concert)
Sousa, Liberty Bell
Rodgers, King & I, March of the Siamese Children
Strauss Sr., Radetzky March

Mar. 22 2012 09:59 PM
BenF from Savannah

I should have looked at your list more closely before suggesting a Grieg march. You already have a Grieg piece on the list -- it's just under Richard Rodgers. Listen to Wedding at Troldhaugen, and you be the judge about Rodgers lifting a major theme for his March of the Siamese Children.

Mar. 22 2012 08:34 PM
BenF from Savannah

If I had to pick just one, I'd choose the march from the Sigurd Jorsalfar Suite by Grief. And I'm not even Norwegian.

Mar. 22 2012 08:02 PM
David from Flushing

There is a processional piece in Handel's oratorio "Joshua" that is not very long, but shockingly awe inspiring. Its name is quite a mouthful, "The solemn march for the circumvection of the Ark of the Covenant."

Mar. 22 2012 07:57 PM
RD from Laurel Springs, NJ

The South Regional
Concert Variations on the Portuguese Hymn to King Louis I - Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Mar. 22 2012 02:40 PM
a kouchich from Milwaukee

Donald Gillis "January February March"

Mar. 22 2012 10:43 AM
Ashlynn from Closter, NJ

There are so great many choices! I don't think any Best Marches list would be complete without Star Wars. :)

Mar. 22 2012 10:35 AM
RD from Laurel Springs, NJ

There are so many choices:

Radetsky March - Johann Strauss Sr
Crown Imperial - Sir William Walton
Orb and Scepter - Sir William Walton
The Liechtenstein March - Joseph Strauss
Suite #1 in E Flat - Gustav Holst
Suite #2 in F - Gustav Holst
Festive Coronation March - Pyotr Tchaikovsky

I wouldn't know where to put these great classical marches.

Mar. 22 2012 09:56 AM
Bernie from UWS

My Final Four:
1. Holst Second Suite in F
2. Mahler Symphony No. 5 - 1st mvt.
3. Wagner Siegfried's Funeral March
4. Hindemith - March from Symphonic Metamorphosis

Honorable mentions - Mozart Turkish March, Britten Pacifist March

Mar. 22 2012 07:08 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

Chronologically speaking, you would have to move Sousa's "Liberty Bell" and "Stars & Stripes Forever" marches to the South Regional bracket as they were composed in 1893 and 1896 respectively. For the East Regional, I'd put my money on Sousa's "Sabre & Spurs" (1917) and "Nobles Of The Mystic Shrine" (1923) provided as Sisko24 stated, they are played well. Another Eric Coates march that comes to mind is his "Knightsbridge/In Town Tonight" from London Everyday Suite (1933).

Mar. 21 2012 10:35 PM

Hmm, not a good listing of choices. Where is 'March Upon a Theme by Handel' by Guilmant or 'The Tsar's Farewell' by Rimski-Korsakoff or 'The Dam Busters' by Coates or 'RAF March Past' by Walford Davies? I realize WQXR had to limit the choices, but if you're going to include music from Broadway and movies, why not other choices? I will vote for 'Stars and Stripes Forever' but then who doesn't love a good Sousa march played well?

Mar. 21 2012 06:36 PM

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