Monday, December 19, 2016

United States Marine Band - Two German Marches

Marches are often derided by music lovers; some consider the march the most mindless of "light" music styles. But approached with an open mind, the march can, in its admittedly limited way, provide musical enjoyment. The march is a multi-strain form, presenting one melody after another, with no room for any real development. So while marches offer little chance for musical profundity, the best march composers were excellent melodists, and their offerings are worth hearing for the sometimes imaginative ways they handle the limitations of the form. I would argue that the best marches are as worthy of our attention as similarly limited forms such as ragtime and the Brazilian choro.

Here the United States Marine Band offers two German marches in recordings from 1914. The composers, Ernst Stieberitz (1877-1945) and Franz von Blon (1861-1945), were active in the German band world as conductors and composers; both wrote numerous marches, as well as other words for band. These two marches are melodically fresh and enjoyable, and these Victor recordings have not been reissued, as far as I can tell.

This post serves as a memorial to Bill Haynes, an excellent band conductor, authority on concert band music, and the first follower of this blog. Bill was senselessly killed in Atlanta on December 17, 2016. He loved the Marine Band, and considered that ensemble to be the best concert band in the world. So long, BHaynes.

Here is Victor 17730, by the United States  Marine Band, recorded in Camden, New Jersey in March, 1914
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Unter dem Gardestern (Under the Star of the Guard) (Ernst Stieberitz)

Treu der Flagge (True to the Flag) (Franz von Blon)