“The Imperial & Royal Residence of Vienna Belaguered and Liberated”
by Johann Baptist Vanhal
For two flutes
Edited by Konrad Hunteler
Published by Universal Editions
The full title of the piece is The Imperial and Royal Residence of Vienna Belaguered and Liberated, and refers to Napoleon's successful Italian campaign in 1796 to drive Austria out of northern Italy. As Napoleon approached the city of Vienna, the Austrian government appealed to the people to “muster all available resources to win an honorable peace by force of arms”. This appeal had a truly remarkable effect, as within a matter of days, there was a fervour and resolve to defend the city. This programmatic flute duet was orignally composed as a keyboard work. This version radically simplifies and abridges the depiction of events, but it does succeed in capturing the mood of fervour and excitement, which evidently inspired other composers to write similar programmatic eulogies. The actual course of events was somewhat less glorious in terms of its impact on the political fortunes of Austria, than the almost propagandist musical apotheoses suggest. The Viennese did not banish the spectre of Napoleon, as he enter the city in 1805 as a conquering hero, and returned a second time four years later.