About this Recording
8.557545 - STRIKE UP THE BAND!
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Strike up the Band!
Sousa • Coates • Gounod • Schubert • Gershwin

 

Julius Fučik (1872-1916) was born in Prague and studied at the conservatory in that city at a time when Antonín Dvořák was also a pupil there. He was an extremely productive composer with over 400 works to his name, among them operettas, chamber music, masses and songs. Today, however, he is almost exclusively known for his marches, more than a hundred of them, of which two have become especially famous: Einzug der Gladiatoren (Entry of the Gladiators, [Track 5]) and Florentiner Marsch [1]. The first of these was originally called Grande Marche Chromatique but, inspired by the gladiatorial combats in ancient Rome, Fučik later gave it its present, much more thought-provoking title. Anyone who has ever been to the circus cannot have avoided hearing it. One might imagine that this was Fučik's most popular march, but an international survey placed the Florentiner Marsch in first place. It has the subtitle Grande Marcia Italiana, and the word Florentiner is an allusion to the city of Florence.

Eric Coates (1886-1957) was a viola player and a founder member of the Beecham Symphony Orchestra; he later became section leader in the Queens Hall Orchestra, where he remained until he resigned in 1918 to devote himself entirely to composition. One of the reasons for his masterful orchestration was certainly that he had seen and heard the orchestra from within. The 1920s and 1930s were a golden age for Coates, with the development of broadcasting. Unlike many other English composers he does not seem to have been especially interested in writing film music, but his score for The Dam Busters (1954) includes the well-known The Dam Busters March ([2]).

It is said that Carl Teike (1864-1922) lost all interest in military matters when a newly arrived regimental conductor suggested that he should throw away a newly composed march. It happened to be Alte Kameraden ([3]), so it is to be hoped that the conductor was forced to eat his words. Teike left the army for the police-force, continuing to write marches. Ever since it first appeared, Alte Kameraden has been one of the world's most frequently played marches.

George Gershwin (1898-1937) composed a whole series of unforgettable songs with texts by his brother Ira; his first major hit was Swanee. Gershwin was also the first who seriously understood how to combine jazz and symphonic music, in his Rhapsody in Blue, which was composed in January 1924 and was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. The première was given by Paul Whiteman's orchestra, with Gershwin himself as soloist. When Gershwin sought out Maurice Ravel in Paris with a view to taking lessons, Ravel apparently asked if he could take lessons from Gershwin instead. He also wrote a series of musicals, and many of his most famous songs were first heard in such a context. This applies, for instance, to Strike Up The Band ([4]), from the musical of the same name, first given in Philadelphia in 1927.

Josef Franz Wagner (1856-1908) (no relative of Richard) has sometimes been called 'the Austrian march king' and it is certainly true that Austria - especially Vienna - was close to his heart. In 1899, after 21 years, he gave up a career in the armed forces and organized his own military band, which soon became popular. He composed more than four hundred pieces, but it was his marches that brought him the greatest fame. Unter dem Doppeladler (Under the Double Eagle, [6]), the name is an allusion to the two eagles in Austria's coat of arms, is one of the most famous of all marches.

It is exceptional for a person's name to be applied not only to a type of ensemble but also to a type of music, but that is exactly what happened to Johann Schrammel (1850-93) and his brother Joseph. They were both violinists in the Schrammel Quartet that they formed in 1877. The other instruments were the guitar and clarinet (later accordion). At first the music they played was typically Viennese, and the Austrian capital was also the subject for Johann's march Wien bleibt Wien (Vienna will always be Vienna, [7]).

Victor Herbert (1859-1924) is nowadays best known for his operettas, but he was one of the most significant figures in American music in the early twentieth century. Born in Dublin, he received his musical education in Germany and Austria, and in 1886 arrived in America, where he became principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He was an exceptionally talented musician and an outstanding conductor. He was also one of the first to compose music for films, and an enthusiastic champion of the phonograph. The well-known March of the Toys ([8]) comes from his operetta Babes in Toyland, first performed in Chicago in June 1903.

Frederick J. Ricketts (1881-1945) composed under the pseudonym Kenneth J. Alford. When he was just fourteen he lied about his age in order to join the First Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment and, after seeing service in India, he joined the Royal Military School, Kneller Hall. He is supposed to have helped a number of other students who were given the task of composing music but were not as proficient as he was. In 1930 he became director of music for the Plymouth Division, Royal Marines. Under his leadership this ensemble achieved worldwide fame, with tours to France and Canada. During the Second World War, Alford, by then promoted to the rank of major, took the ensemble all over England. He retired a year before his death. His most famous march is Colonel Bogey ([9]), not least because of the prominent rôle it plays in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). It also became extremely popular during the Second World War among British soldiers, who provided it with texts unsuitable for printing.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) is indeed the march king, in all categories. He personified turn-of-the-century America, with its relatively unsuspecting character and irresistible energy. His own orchestra often undertook tours around the globe and did pioneering work in introducing music to hundreds of towns all over America. Sousa composed a large number of marches, of which The Stars and Stripes Forever, Washington Post and Semper Fidelis are among the most popular. Here we have chosen to represent him with a march that is not played quite so often, The Liberty Bell, from 1893 ([10]). Sousa was inspired to write the piece in Chicago, when he saw a painting of Philadelphia's famous Liberty Bell. By a happy coincidence he received a letter from his wife the next day in which she explained how their son had taken part in a ceremony centred on this very bell and had thus shown himself to be a true patriot. Patriotism, of course, was a matter of honour for Sousa. Even if the march is relatively seldom played, it may nevertheless sound strikingly familiar, perhaps because John Cleese and his colleagues used it as the signature tune for the BBC comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Not much is known about Kurt Noack (1895-1945), the composer of Heinzelmännchens Wachtparade (Brownie's guard parade). He was active in Berlin and Stettin (Szczecin) and wrote a number of works for salon orchestra, among them Valse Scandinave and Marionetten um Mitternacht. Heinzelmännchens Wachtparade was his 'big hit'.

During his lifetime Louis Ganne (1862-1923) was regarded as one of the leading composers of lighter music in France. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where Massenet taught him composition and César Franck taught him the organ. He had scarcely left the Conservatoire when he started to make a name for himself as the composer of marches, waltzes and mazurkas. For many years he was in charge of music at the Monte Carlo Casino, where he directed a very popular concert series, Les Concerts de Louis Ganne. He also wrote a number of operettas and ballets, but nowadays he is remembered most for a single piece, Marche lorraine (1892, [12]), using an old folk-song from the district. During the Second World War, Marche lorraine assumed a special significance as a battle song for the Free French and their allies.

Franz von Blon (1861-1945) saw marches more as concert pieces than as music to help soldiers keep in step. Although little recorded, he is regarded, along with Carl Teike, as among the finest German march composers. He studied at the Stern Conservatory and was one of six promising violinists who were granted private lessons with Joseph Joachim. He worked as an orchestral leader and conductor, and composed a large number of works in a wide range of genres, not least music for wind orchestra. Solinger Schützenmarsch ([13]) is dedicated to a shooting club in Solingen, a town in the Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) region.

Charles Gounod (1818-1893) received his first musical tuition from his mother, and in 1836 entered the Paris Conservatoire. He wrote his first opera, Sappho, for the singer Pauline Viardot-Garcia, and a series of operas followed, among them Faust, Mireille and Roméo et Juliette. His Marche funèbre d'une marionnette (Funeral March of a Marionette, [14]) became well-known as the signature tune of the television programmes Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960-62) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-65).

Johannes Hanssen (1874-1967) was a tenor horn player in the Norwegian band Brigademusikken when his Valdres March ([15]) was first performed at an outdoor concert in 1904. Apparently only two members of the audience applauded, and they were his best friends. Later the march achieved international fame, and was included on a recording by the Boston Symphony Orchestra entitled 'The World's Ten Best Marches'. From 1926 onwards, Hanssen was a lieutenant and director of Brigademusikken, although he also worked as an orchestral musician.

When the Prussian army defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Königgratz in 1866, they called upon Johann Gottfried Piefke (1815-1884) to celebrate their victory. He directed an ensemble consisting of three bands in a programme of marches and folk-songs, thereby demonstrating the popularity he enjoyed within the Prussian army. Piefke's masterful direction and the high standard of his players also met with the approval of the famous conductor Hans von Bülow, among others. Preußens Gloria (Prussia's Glory, [16]) was composed in 1871, but Piefke rarely performed it himself. After his death it was discovered among his effects and published in a collection of marches in 1911.

For many people, the Marche militaire by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) is indelibly associated with Christmas Eve, Disney and Santa's workshop. In fact, however, Schubert wrote it as the first of three Marches militaires (D. 733) for piano four hands. In that form it enjoyed great contemporary domestic success.

Semyon Tchernevsky (1881-1950) may be unknown to most of us, but in his own country he is regarded as a Russian Sousa, the composer of a series of excellent marches that are frequently performed. Salyut Moskvy ([18]) is one of his most popular works and begins, as often with Tchernevsky, with a quotation, this time from Moscow Radio's interval signal, which is wholly appropriate as this march is a tribute to Moscow.

Every time a film director requires a melody associated with the American Marines, his choice is straightforward: he turns to Charles A. Zimmerman (1862-1916) and his Anchors Aweigh ([19]). Zimmerman was a lieutenant at the U.S. Naval Academy and had the habit of composing a march for every class of cadets that graduated from that institution. He wrote Anchors Aweigh for the class of 1906, and it was subsequently provided with a text by a cadet who was also a member of the institute's choir, Alfred H. Miles. In that form it was first performed at the annual football match between the Army and the Marines, before a crowd of thirty thousand in Philadelphia. For the first time in many years the Marines won.

Robert Planquette (1848-1903) studied at the Paris Conservatoire and became known as a composer of popular songs. He later wrote twelve operettas, of which Les cloches de Corneville (The Bells of Corneville, 1877) is the only one to have retained its place in the repertoire. In its time it was immensely popular and, during a ten-year period, it was performed more than a thousand times. In 1871 he composed Sambre et Meuse ([20]), a setting of a strongly patriotic poem by Paul Cezano, Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse, that kept alive the spirit of the French Revolution. The name of the regiment comes from two rivers: the Sambre is a tributary of the Meuse.

Paul Lincke (1866-1946) worked as a theatre conductor and music publisher in Berlin around the turn of the century. He spent two years in Paris as musical director of the famous Folies-Bergère, but then returned to Berlin, where he conducted at the Apollo Theatre. A versatile musician, he started with the violin, changed to the bassoon and then finally to the piano. He was the foremost champion of a sort of mixture of pop tune and operetta that became very popular in Germany and elsewhere. It is from such a project that Lincke's most popular piece is derived: Glühwürmchen-Idyll from Lysistrata (1902), and the march Berliner Luft ([21]) from the musical Frau Luna (1899). The piece immediately became very popular and Lincke used it again in 1906 in a musical that was itself named Berliner Luft, to exploit the work's fame. Lincke apparently composed more that 500 works, some of them under the pseudonym of Ted Huggens.

Lars Johansson
English version: Andrew Barnett

 

Arrangers of the Marches:
Bruno Hartmann ([1]); W. J. Duthoit ([2]); Warren Barker ([4]); Hans Weber ([6]); Hans Kliment ([7]); Sammy Nestico ([8]); A. Bils ([11]); Franz Mahl ([12]); M. C. Meyrelles ([14]); Glenn C. Bainum ([15]); Grawert / Hackenberger / Deisenroth ([16]); Armin Suppan ([17]); V. Sjnirko ([18]); Paul Yoder ([19]); J. S. Seredy ([20])


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