Kenneth J. Alford January 17 2012, 2 Comments
Contributed by: Jack Kopstein The music of Kenneth J Alford has become synonymous with the tradition of British military music and in particular the Royal Marine bands. Kenneth Alford (Fredrick Joseph Ricketts) was born in London on February 21, 1881. Yearning for a career in military music, he joined the Royal Irish Regiment in 1895. After playing the cornet, piano and organ in the Royal Irish Regiment and serving in India, Frederick Joseph R Ricketts became a student bandmaster at the Royal Military School of Music in 1904 . He became the bandmaster for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1908. He also served as director of music for the Royal Marines where he gained his most prominence. Ricketts composed under his mother's maiden name, Alford, and is remembered as one of the finest composers of military marches. He was a master in instrumentation and possessed a clear melodic sense. His marches often contain inventive counter melodies. He was a superb organist and this talent enabled him to compose brilliant and strong original melodic phrases into his marches. He remained in the Army until 1927, when he was commissioned into the Royal Marines as a Director of Music. After a total of almost fifty years' service to the Crown he retired in 1944 in rather poor health and died in the following year on 15th May. During his long military career, he wrote many marches that remain famous to this day and particular popular across both brass band and the mechanical music fraternities alike. His march Eagle Squadron was a salute to the Americans serving in the Royal Air Force prior to America’s entry into WWII. Alford marches are contained on several Altissimo and Naxos albums including the album "Colonel Bogey on Parade" which contains many of his finest compositions including Holyrood,. The Vedette ,Colonel Bogey, Great Little Army, On the Quarterdeck, The Middy,The Voice of the Guns and many others.
More Famous Marches | Military Music on April 09 2014 at 10:37AM
[…] Marches, provides a lengthy list of famous marches, a list that could be potentially endless. From Kenneth J. Alford all the way to Wilhelm Zehle, there are so many marches out there it would be impossible to compile […]
Robert Jock Heath on April 09 2014 at 10:37AM
Excellent short history of the great gentleman! As a graduate of the Royal Marine Bandmasters Course I had the privilege of listening to the Royal Marine band playing many of Alfords marches. I have also conducted and recorded many of them as a Musical Director in the Royal Australian Navy. Some of the original manuscripts are, I think, held in the Royal Marine School of Music?
His pieces are played occasionally played by Brass Bands, but are more commonly included in the repertoire of Military and Wind Bands.
His marches are, I think, far superior in craftsmanship and musicality to Sousa’s!