Bataille d’Austerlitz surnommé la Journée des Trois Empereurs

Bataille d’Austerlitz surnommé la Journée des Trois Empereurs

“Pièce militaire et historique pour le Forte-Piano avec accompagnement du Violon
Précédée des Réjouissances du Camp Français pour l’anniversaire du couronnement de S. M. l’Empereur Napoléon.
Dédiée à la Grande Armée”


A note given by the composer heads the piece and reads as follows:
Battle of Austerlitz, fought on II Frimaire, An 14 (2 December, 1805)
That ever-memorable day on which the emperor Napoleon and the Grande Armée, comprising at most 80,000 men, covered themselves in immortal glory when, in less than 4 hours, they destroyed a large part of the Russian and Austrian armies of 105,000 men, 30,000 of which were taken prisoner. The Russian and Austrian emperors owed their survival to a hasty flight. On the night which preceded this famous battle, the Grande Armée, in one spontaneous movement, celebrated the anniversary of the coronation of our invincible and inimitable emperor, who had his bivouac amidst them. There were celebratory fires, and an illumination lit each bayonet. For a moment, the whole region was ablaze with light and the enemy witnessed the enthusiasm of our brave warriors.

Text above the music

Order of the Emperor Napoléon for a feinted retreat.
Silent march of the Grande Armée towards the position assigned by the emperor
The calm of the night when the emperor and the Grande Armée bivouacked
Movement of the soldiers in an impromptu celebration of the anniversary of the coronation of the emperor of the French
Sudden, general illumination of the camp
Cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’, Drums
At the outposts, sentinels, watch out!
Arrival of the enemy in an attempt to outflank the French army on the right
Russian cries of fury, Houra, Houra, Houra
Columns of voltigeurs repulsing the enemy
Columns of grenadiers breaking the enemy’s left
Loud cannonade (both hands together sideways over the bass notes)
Canon, Canon
The charge
Trumpets. The call to the Russian horse guards to come into the fray
Charge of that cavalry
Trumpets sound the charge of the French imperial horse guards which defeats that of the enemy
Sabre slashes
Despair of the emperor Napoleon’s foot guards at not being able to take part
It was the invincible reserve
Russian columns driven into immense lakes
Horrible disorder of these legions as they perish in the frozen marshes
Surrender of the enemy
Victory is ours. Trumpets announce the most memorable victory
The plaintive cries of the wounded
The emperor visits the battlefield
His magnanimous heart is moved by the mournful spectacle
His paternal care is hailed with cries by the whole army
Cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’, Drums
Waltz in the Russian style
French soldiers have the captured musicians of the Russian imperial guard play waltzes
Happiness of the French at this famous victory won by the hero of the century and the companions of his glory.



This programmatic, pianistic rendition of the Battle of Austerlitz was composed by the Parisian church organist and composer, Jacques-Marie Beauvarlet Charpentier (1766-1834). Jacques-Marie was the son of the most celebrated French organist of the late-18th century, Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier, and he started his career as organist at St. Paul in the Marais. During the Revolution, when the churches were closed, he played the organ for para-religious groups such as the Théophilanthropes and also at the Temple de la Reconnaissance. He is known to have written certain politically–correct pieces, notably Le réveil du peuple (1795) and the Hymnes à l’usage des adorateurs de Dieu et des hommes (Hymns for the use of worshippers of god and man (i.e., Théophilanthropes) dated 1799 and downloadable here (external link in French). After 18 Brumaire, he changed his political colours, composing not only the battle piece here highlighted but also a work celebrating Napoleon’s coronation, Cérémonie du couronnement de sa majesté l’empereur (1804). During the First Restoration, Jacques-Marie once again swapped allegiances, writing a piece in honour of Louis XVIII entitled Louis le désiré à Paris (c. 1814). Indeed, Jacques Marie was so noted as an ‘Organist of Bray’ that he won a special entry in the Dictionnaire des Girouettes (‘Dictionary of turncoats’) of 1815 for his pandering firstly to Napoleon and then to Louis. The entry in the dictionary reads:
“Beauvarlet Charpentier, Instrument salesman, publisher, composer of music, Boulevard Poissonnière, n° 27, à Paris
Are you a Royalist? Ask Monsieur Beauvarlet for his La Paix, l’Union des nations, et le Retour du roi de France, military entertainment for piano with violin accompaniment, by Monsieur Beauvarlet-Charpentier, organist for the Royal parish of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis; price 6 fr.: or three Domine fac salvum regem, by the same (Journal des Débats, 8 June, 1814)
Are you a Bonapartist? Then ask Monsieur M. Beauvarlet-Charpentier for his Illustre et heureuse alliance, grand symphony arranged by the composer on the occasion of the emperor’s marriage; price 6 fr. (1810)”

As a church organist, Beauvarlet-Charpentier moved around the Paris churches, playing successively at St Germain-L’Auxerrois, at St-Germain-des-Près, at St-Eustache (there celebrated as one of that church’s best ever organists), at St-Paul-St-Louis and at the Chapelle des Missions Etrangères. He also had an activity as a music publisher and instrument dealer, though this petered out in 1821. In addition to the works noted here he also wrote 50 songs and romances, ten large programmatic pieces, some church music and a one-act opera Gervais ou Le Jeune Aveugle which ran for seven months at the Théâtre des Jeunes Artistes in 1802.



Dowload the score here.


Jacques-Marie Beauvarlet-Charpentier


– The New Grove: Dictionary of Music and Musicians ®, Stanley Sadie (ed.), London and New York: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1999, s.v., “Beauvarlet-Charpentier, Jacques-Marie”
Dictionnaire des girouettes, ou, Nos contemporains peints d’après eux-mêmes; ouvrage dans lequel sont rapportés les discours, proclamations, chansons, extraits d’ouvrages écrits sous les gouvernemens qui ont eu lieu en France depuis vingt-cinq ans, Paris: Alexis Eymery, 1815, s.v., “Beauvarlet Charpentier”