Composed in 1882, Franck's brilliant ton poem is after a ballad by the German poet Gottfried Brger about a count who defiantly goes hunting on Sunday in violation of the sabbath. Though reminded of the day via church bells and chants and warned by church elders, the Count blows his hunting horn. In the forest he is cursed by a loud voice: "Cursed hunter, be thou eternally pursued by Hell!" The wild ride commences when the count attempts to flee but is sourrounded by flames, and pursued by demons - blocking him and then chasing him day and night. Even when the count and his horse fall into the abyss they are borne through the air to ride on in eternal punishment.
Inspired by the lurid tale, Franck unleashed the power of a large orchestra to portray the dark and fantastic tale of the infernal ride in sound. Clint Nieweg and Nancy Bradburd's 2010 edition, previously issued by the now-defunct publisher E.F. Kalmus, is based on the first edition and other authoritative sources. The study score offered here is a reduced-format reissue of the large conductor's score, which is now available along with the orchestral parts from Serenissima Music.
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