dead march

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dead march (plural dead marches)

  1. (music) A mournful, deliberately-paced musical work suitable for a funeral or remembrance ceremony.
    • 1855, Walt Whitman, "Dirge for Two Veterans" in Leaves of Grass:
      I see a sad procession,
      And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
      All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
      As with voices and with tears.
      . . .
      Now nearer blow the bugles,
      And the drums strike more convulsive,
      And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
      And the strong dead-march enwraps me.
    • 1859, Washington Irving, chapter 15, in Life of George Washington:
      A captain's guard marched before the corpse, the captain of it in the rear, the firelocks reversed, the drums beating the dead march.
    • 1914, Amelia E. Barr, chapter 2, in Playing With Fire:
      Lord Cramer . . . described the burying of his company's colonel after it—the open grave in a cleft of hills dark with pines, the solemn dead march, the noble words spoken as they left their leader forever.
    • 1983 Nov. 22, Donal Henahan, "Musica: Sacra at Fisher Hall," New York Times (retrieved 10 Sept 2013):
      At the end, the orchestra played a somber dead march that was punctuated by harsh, chilling blows on the timpani.
  2. (capitalized) Any of several particular notable musical works of this kind, such as the Marche funèbre by Frédéric Chopin or the funeral anthem in George Frideric Handel's Saul.
    • 1849, Herman Melville, chapter 49, in Redburn: His First Voyage:
      [W]hat divine ravishments may we not anticipate from this venerable, embrowned old organ, which might almost have played the Dead March in Saul, when King Saul himself was buried.
    • 1865 March 3, "Funeral of a Policeman." New York Times (retrieved 10 Sept 2013):
      Conner's Band preceded the procession, playing the Dead March. The body was conveyed to Cypress Hill Cemetery.
    • 1952 Feb. 15, "King George is Laid to Rest in Simple Service," Evening Times (UK), p. 1 (retrieved 10 Sept 2013):
      It was 12:35 p.m. when the train pulled slowly out on its 21-mile journey to Windsor for the King's burial with his ancestors. As it left, the bands played their final farewell, Chopin's "Dead March."


  • (mournful, deliberately-paced musical work suitable for a funeral): funeral march

See also[edit]