TRADITIONAL GERMAN MILITARY MARCHES 

 

Updated February 5, 2014

 

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Historical Notes: A Brief Introduction to the Prussian and German March Collections

"In order to assist the regiments of the Army in the choice of good military music, I have commanded a collection of proven musical pieces to be prepared and a set of them is to be supplied to each regiment." 

It was to this decree of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, issued in 1817, that the Prussian Army was indebted for its famous collection of military marches (Armeemärsche). Prior to this, due to the scarcity of printed musical scores, Prussian military musicians were largely dependent upon a repertoire which was passed down by word-of-mouth, a situation which inevitably resulted in the loss of a considerable number of musical compositions over the years. 

As organized, pieces in the Prussian March Collection were divided between "Slow Marches for the Infantry", "Quick Marches for the Infantry" and Cavalry Marches, with each piece in the collection receiving the numerical designation AM I, II or III, respectively, depending upon its type, followed by an Arabic numeral denoting its number within its category. Thus, the march Herzog von Braunschweig, as a "slow" march for infantry, was numbered AM I, 9; the Marsch des Yorck’schen Korps, as a "quick" march for infantry, was numbered AM II, 37; and the Parademarsch Nr. 1 "Möllendorf", as a cavalry march, was numbered AM III, 51. 

The collection was continually augmented until, by 1916, it had grown to a repertoire of 536 separate compositions, among which were included not only Prussian, but also Hanovarian, Saxon, Hessian, Badener, Württembergian, Bavarian, Austrian, Swedish, Italian, Swiss and even Russian and British military marches. 

In the early 1930’s, the Prussian tradition of cataloging Armeemärsche was revived by the German armed forces which redesignated march compositions as Heeresmärsche, which were given numerical designations beginning with HM I, HM II and HM III respectively. 

Luckily for the enthusiast of military music, the West German armed forces undertook in the nineteen fifties, ‘sixties and ‘seventies, with various fits and starts, a systematic effort to record for posterity many of the pieces in the Prussian and German March Catalogues, being closely paralleled by the military musicians of the DDR, who "rediscovered" the heritage of the German march fairly early on and produced numerous recordings of their own. 

Brandenburg Historica is proud to present some of the best results of these endeavors, which have produced first rate performances of many of those marches which are today but little known, but are among the most illustrious in the repertoire, as well as definitive versions of the oft-performed "old standbys".

 

LÜTZOWS WILDE, VERWEGENE JAGD: MUSIK DER BEFREIUNGSKRIEGE    Alte Kameraden, Vol. 3  Wohlauf, Kameraden!  PREUSSISCHE MARSCHMUSIK: ALTE KAMERADEN, VOL. 1

 

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