Masters of the March: A Perspective March 24 2010, 1 Comment

Contributed by Jack Kopstein The following two vinyl recordings found in a Canadian Collectors catalogue are two of the most valuable and interesting recordings ever made in Britain. *Unfortunately, these recordings are not available on our website. Masters of the March Volume 1 (Rodney Bashford and Leo Stanley) Band of the Royal Corps of Signals / Droit DR91 Conducted by: Lt. Col. RB Bashford OBE and Major G. Turner MBE Information below appears on both records So many thousands of marches have been written that good march tunes are not easy to come by. Most of the successful ones sound simple, and it is this simplicity that makes them difficult to write. John Philip Sousa (the American march king) said that a good march must make a man with a wooden leg step out. A large proportion of the march repertoire used by the British Army is of foreign origin but in this series we pay tribute to the British march writers past and present. The aim is to offer the listener a cross-section of a composer’s works, and some of the marches are appearing on record/cassette for the first time. Where possible two writers of contrasting styles appear on each recording and when appropriate the composer is invited to conduct his own works, thus ensuring an authentic interpretation. The style of march writing has changed over the years. Many written in the mid 20th century depend inevitably and unavoidably on the cliché but had strong melodic lines with traditional harmonies. The titles rarely had any influence on the musical content and in the main would have been equally successful under other names. Recent contributions are more adventurous in harmony and rhythm and if written for specific occasions composers often draw on appropriate well known themes cleverly weaving them into their original thoughts. Side One – Leo Stanley Alamein / With Might and Main / March of the Commandos / The Partisans / Guard of Honour / The Mechanical Horse / Swift and Sure / Great Occasions Side Two – Rodney Bashford Marche Militaire / Foxhunters March / Splice the Mainbrace / Tyrol Troop / The Galloping Major / The Queen’s Company / Cavalry Walk-  Cavalry Ride – Cavalry Trot / The Light Division / The Inkerman March Masters of the March Volume 2 (JH Howe and Kenneth Alford) Regimental Band of the 1st Bn The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise’s) / Droit DR 92 Conducted by: Major JH Howe MBE and WO KG Lamb FVCM BBCM (Major Howe Bio is taken from record cover) Jimmy Howe comes from a Brass Band family. A native of North East England, he began his musical career playing the cornet in local colliery bands. In 1933, he joined the Royal Scots as a band boy, and served with his regiment in Palestine in 1938, and also in France at the outbreak of World War Two. Captured at Le Paradis, he was a prisoner of war in Poland and organized a Stalag Ban with instruments obtained through the British Red Cross which helped to sustain the morale of the men in captivity. After the war, he studied at Kneller Hall and was appointed bandmaster of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1949, serving with them in Hong Kong, British Guyana, Berlin and the United Kingdom. In 1956, he took the Band to Helsinki, playing at the British Industries Fair. He was commissioned Director of Music to the Scots Guards in 1959 and was subsequently appointed senior Director of Music Household Division in 1970. The following year he was awarded the MBE for his services to Army Bands. Since his retirement from the Army in 1974, he has conducted many leading Symphony Orchestras and the radio programme Friday Night is Music Night and Melodies for You. He is still active as a guest conductor and adjudicator of music festivals making appearances in the USA, Canada, and Europe. As well as the marches on this album, he has compositions of light music to his credit, also many arrangements of popular works are to be found in the military and brass band repertoires. He is a Vice-President of the national ex-Prisoner of War Association and an active member of the Dunkirk Veterans  Association. Side 1 – Kenneth Alford Holyrood / The Mad Major / Dunedin / Old Panama / Cavalry of the Clouds / The Vanished Army / Colonel Bogey on Parade Side 2 – Jimmy Howe Fairfield / Pride of Princess Street / The Civic / Balmoral Castle / Pentland Hills / Stalag March / Glasgow Fair / The Corner FlagCOnt