KINGS OF THE MARCH
There can be few more pleasant tasks for an historical society than to focus its attention on past achievements and successes. For our Society, at the threshold of the new millennium, an imminent anniversary which we look forward to celebrating with great pride is the Royal Marines Band Service's centenary. Formed in 1903, its officially recognised year of birth, the Band Service was founded through the concept of the Royal Naval School of Music. At that point all musicians of the Royal Navy became Royal Marines and to them passed total responsibility for the music of the Senior Service.
Since then the high esteem in which this magnificent branch of our Corps has been held is, of course, beyond dispute both nationally and, we believe can justifiably be claimed, internationally. Furthermore, we suspect that few serious students of military history are likely to be unaware of the critically important roles played by Royal Marines musicians in service at sea and elsewhere during World War II; equally of the giants of the Band Service who dominated the development of Royal Marines bands and enhanced their reputation during the last century, amongst them Major F J Ricketts RM (Kenneth J Alford) and Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vivian Dunn RCVO OBE FRAM RM.
This is not the place to chart that development other than to note that the Band Service has been the subject of a number of studies and books by members of this Society, for example John Trendell's definitive history of the Band Service, A Life On The Ocean Wave (1990), and his biography of Kenneth Alford, Colonel Bogey To The Fore (1991). In particular Derek Oakley's biography of Vivian Dunn, Fiddler On The March which was published by this Society in early 2000, is a major scholarly work. Additionally we also have in John Ambler, the current Chairman of the International Military Music Society, an experienced authority on a wide range of historic Royal Marines Band Service matters especially its extensive recordings catalogue dating back to the first half of the Twentieth century. Indeed John has recently published its complete Discography, a considerable undertaking which involved many months of painstaking research.
Our purpose in presenting this CD is to mark the centenary of the Royal Marines Band Service with a special selection from its principal recordings of the last century, in this case the EMI Gold Disc award winning LP's of Alford and Sousa marches which were produced during the 1950's and 60's. There is no doubt that the world-wide popularity of both composers, the undisputed March Kings of their respective countries if not the world, continues unabated today, but we are particularly proud of this compilation by the Band of the Royal Marines School of Music at Deal, recorded under Vivian Dunn's baton during his appointment as Principal Director of Music Royal Marines. The inspiration for this CD, the recordings' selection and their digital re-mastering is that of the distinquished EMI recording producer responsible for all the original recordings, Brian Culverhouse, to whom we are indebted for his advice and support and, especially, for suggesting a title which reflects both the quality and importance of the compositions and the world class precision of the playing.
We believe that this CD provides not only an enduring monument to musical excellence at this significant anniversay but also an appropriate tribute to all members of the Royal Marines Band Service who contributed, through their valued service, to its enormously rich history as a premier military band during the last one hundred years.