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Vive la France! WRTI has your soundtrack for Bastille Day

PARIS - MAY 5: The Boston Symphony Orchestra played a concert at the Eiffel Tower, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. (Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images
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Boston Globe
PARIS - MAY 5: The Boston Symphony Orchestra played a concert at the Eiffel Tower, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. (Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Between the recent national election, the upcoming Paris Olympics and their competitiveness in the UEFA European Championship, France has certainly held the spotlight this month. That attention will continue through Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, a major event of the French Revolution.

To celebrate the rich history of France on Bastille Day, WRTI will present a special edition of Sunday Classical, bringing you some of the greatest compositions and pieces representative of France on the country’s national day. From 3 to 6 p.m., tune in at 90.1 FM, or stream at wrti.org or via the WRTI app. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be offering.

What better way to start the celebration than with France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise, as recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra with tenor Ben Heppner? Composed by Rouget de Lisle in 1792, this patriotic piece has stood firmly as a proud representation of France since it was adopted as the national anthem on Bastille Day in 1795.

For our opera fans, there will be two major pieces to listen for in the 4 o’clock hour. We’ll feature music from two important French operas, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Boreades and Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, including performances by singers Natalie Dessay, Ann Murray, and Jessye Norman.

We’ll conclude the show with one of the most iconic French symphonies: the Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, “Organ,” written by Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns. The piece originally premiered on May 19, 1886, and was dedicated to Saint-Saëns’ mentor Franz Liszt after his death later that year. This version is performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with the late French organist Gaston Litaize, remarkable for his life’s work at the National Institute for the Blind in Paris as a blind man teaching students like himself.

Throughout the program, there will be many other notable pieces that highlight French history, such as Franz Joseph Hadyn’s final Paris Symphony, Symphony No. 87 in A Major; Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-GeorgesL’amant Anonyme; and two pieces from Ravel’s Suite for solo piano, Miroirs.

As the summer olympics in Paris quickly follow this Bastille Day, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot for France to celebrate this month. Whether you’re here in the United States, across the pond in France, or anywhere in the world, we hope that you have a wonderful Bastille Day, and that you tune in to hear our celebration. Nous espérons que vous appréciez le programme!