Turkish March (Beethoven)

The Turkish March (Marcia alla turca) is a well-known classical march theme by Ludwig van Beethoven. It was written in the Turkish style popular in music of the time.

The theme was first used in Beethoven's Six Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 76, of 1809. In 1811, Beethoven wrote an overture and incidental music to a play by August von Kotzebue called The Ruins of Athens (Op. 113), which premiered in Pest in 1812. The Turkish March appears as movement four of the incidental music. Many music lovers associate the theme with The Ruins of Athens, although that was not its original appearance.

The march is in B major, tempo vivace and 2
time. Its dynamic scheme is highly suggestive of a procession passing by, starting out pianissimo, poco a poco rising to a fortissimo climax and then receding back to pianissimo by the coda. Unlike much of Beethoven's other orchestral music, the woodwinds are the dominant voice rather than the strings.

Derivative worksEdit

Franz Liszt wrote a piano transcription in 1846, "Capriccio alla turca sur des motifs de Beethoven" (S. 388).

Anton Rubinstein arranged a popular piano version[1] of the march in B major, tempo Allegretto. Sergei Rachmaninoff further arranged Rubinstein's version, heard on piano roll (1928).

An electronic version (also known as The Elephant Never Forgets) by electronic music pioneers Perrey and Kingsley was used as theme for the series El Chavo del Ocho broadcast on Mexican television in 1971.[2][citation needed] A shortened version was featured as cartel enforcer Lado's ringtone throughout Oliver Stone's 2012 crime thriller Savages.


  1. ^ Alexander Shealy (1970). Beethoven: His Greatest Piano Solos, Volume 1. Copa Publishing Co; Ashley Publications, Inc. pp. 44–47. ISBN 0-8256-5137-9.
  2. ^ Frajman, Eduardo (March 17, 2017). "Jean Jacques Perrey: He Helped Shape the Latin American Imagination, and Didn't Even Know It!". LemonWire. Retrieved 27 June 2019.

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