Music doubles and even triples the force of the army,
and with a priest cross, banners unfurle
and the thunderous roar of music I captured Ismail.
Alexander Suvorov, Field Marshal and Generalissimo of the Russian Empire
With centuries flying by, foreign occupants eager to conquer Russia have always wondered what’s the secret standing behind its people’s staunch attitude, resilience and bravery. In their endeavors to somehow justify the overwhelming defeats Russia’s enemies have always made up stories about mighty sorcerous rituals practiced by the ancient Russians or some ultra-secret potions used to strengthen the morale and bravery of the Russian warriors. But they couldn’t even dare to presume that it was the might of simple music — might of the military music of the Russian Army and its military band music service. Once during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) somewhere along the frontline in Manchuria after heavy fighting almost all Russian units were destroyed. The enemy was just about to commemorate victory as brass thundered from behind the hills. Catching a sight of a column marching to the sounds of music the Japanese thought that fresh Russian forces were approaching and dashed away. However, they proved themselves wrong as there wasn’t an army at all. It was just a brave military band marching to the sounds of music prepared to boldly facing the enemy. It was led by Ilya Shatrov, the very same bandmaster who was the author of several magnificent waltzes including the famous On the Hills of Manchuria Waltz. Composed in 1906, it’s still one of the most popular and recognized melodies around the world.
Honoring the 75th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War Victory the Directorate of the Spasskaya Tower Festival is launching on its official webpage a special section dedicated to the War Years Music. There you will find information about the crucial role played by the music and military musicians during the difficult times that our country had to go through. We will share many interesting and little-known facts that we’ve learned studying works by prominent researchers of the Russian and foreign military music history.
Main sources used:
1. M. D. The Central Military Band 1921–1949 — М.: RTSoft Publishing House — Kosmoskop, 2015. — 600 p.
2. Military Music of Russia: History and Contemporaneity / Е. А. Aksyonov, V. G. Ivanov, М. М. Trunov — М.: Voenizdat Publishing House, 2007.
3. Sergeev U. Music Doubles the Army // The Teacher’s Journal. — 2005. — № 26.