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These variations on Vive Henri IV appear at the end of the Grande Méthode Complette, Op. 46 by the Italian guitarist/violinist Francesco Molino (1775-1847). As one of the major guitar personalities in Paris during the 1820s-30s, Molino, known as “François” among the French, would certainly make use of popular melodies such as Vive Henri IV, a song that dates back to the reign of King Henri IV (1553-1610). The song, passed from generation to generation, was incorporated into plays and operas, harmonized by composers, and acquired many variant lyrics. Perhaps one reason the song remained for so long in the collective memory of the French, were the original lyrics that start with the words “J’aimons les filles Et j’aimons le bon vin!” The song was spontaneously adopted as a quasi-official national anthem during the Bourbon Restoration. As presented at the culmination of a major didactical work, the Molino theme and 8 variations on Vive Henri IV, manifest itself as an excellent bridge between the class room and the concert stage.What this really means is that this is a fairly easy piece to play, intermediate at best, but still requires some technical control. There are 8 variations, in triplets, in polyphony, in extended tremolo (m.i.m.i. which turns into p.i.p.i.) and the last one is mainly in octave scales. The original tempo indication of Maestoso is probably inspired by Molino's understanding of the song as the current French National Anthem. The Grande Méthode Complette, Op. 46 was published circa 1826-27 (Thanks to Erik Stenstadvold for this information) and since 1814, Vive Henri IV was the de facto Anthem. But as a song that started out as joyous drinking song (in spite of the minor key!), it seems to me an Allegretto tempo would be more appropriate. Incidentally, a Google search on Vive Henri IV would bring about a huge amount of information, with samples of early editions, sound files, performances, theories etc. As far as I can tell, none of that is an improvement on the seminal article by Goustave Chouquet on the subject, published in the first edition of the Grove Dictionary in 1891.
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