The Band of the Royal Swedish Navy
Marinens Musikkår, The Band of the Swedish Navy, with a permanent strength of 30, is today a professional military band in Sweden, and together with three conscript bands makes up the Swedish Armed Forces Music Centre. The history of military music in Karlskrona in the South of Sweden, goes back to the founding of the city in 1680, when Admiralty bandsmen served on board ships of the Swedish Navy. The Royal Navy Band was formally founded in 1862.
Prior to that time, the navy was provided music by volunteers from both voluntary and regular regiments of the navy, as well as by the Cabin Boy Company. However, we know for certain that there have been navy musicians in Karlskrona since 1685, when the Church of the Admiralty was taken into use. On the day before the ceremonies, a navy band consisting of shawms, oboes and drums had marched around the city to inform the residents of the coming consecration of the new church, called Ulrika Pia in honour of the pious queen of King Carl XI.
Today's band can be traced to the sextet formed at the 1st Cabin Boy Company in Karlskrona. This group eventually became the core of the larger band. The first bandmaster was August Friedrich Fiedler, who had led the navy regimental voluntary band for ten years. In 1868 the navy officers' corps decided to create a music fund in order to contribute to instruments and other necessities. Each member was to forgo 0.3 % of his annual salary and all newly appointed officers were expected to donate five riksdaler. In today's money, this would amount to around 1 000 SEK per year for an officer with ship's duty.
Sea-going ensembles The band would in time include enough musicians to create a large ensemble in Karlskrona for military and civil events, as well as two sextets for use on board the ships of the coastal fleet and on longer trips. Examples of sea-going ensembles during the 1800s include: Ship of the line Carl XIV Johan 1868, sextet Vanadis 1872-73, octet Vanadis 1877, sextet Vanadis 1883, sextet Freja 1899, sextet The largest number was 45 during the Second World War. At that point all musicians were soldiers and the band was led by a music director with either a captain's or a lieutenant's commission. The musicians were non-commissioned officers, petty officers or students. The non-commissioned officers had old, handsome titles such as flag music bombardier or plain music bombardier. As the musicians all had other duties in the navy, playing was more of a part-time job. These non-musical duties might include working in the office or at the infirmary, a state of things that was retained into the 1950s.
In the beginning, the band had only brass instruments, but over the years changes occurred in the instrumentation. During the1920s woodwinds like clarinet and flute came in. Today the band includes flutes, oboe, bassoon, clarinets, saxo-phones, French horns, cornets, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, double bass and percussion. The typically Swedish ensemble with the Eb cornet and tenor valve trombone as the lead instruments lacked oboe,bassoon, saxophones and double bass. This was changed to a more international instrument choice when Swedish military music was reorganised in 1957. At that time the Royal Navy Band was reduced from 45 to 25 and the name changed to the Band of the Swedish Navy. That name only lasted for three years, being changed in 1960 to the Military Band in Karlskrona.
July 1, 1971, the Swedish military music organisation was completely revamped. All bands became civil organisations under a new, governmental structure called Regional Music. In this way the old, venerable Royal Navy Band came to be called "Regional Music, Karlskrona Music Department", though for many the concept Navy Band remained.
In 1993 the Swedish Armed Forces took back principal responsibility for the Band of the Swedish Navy through an agreement with the Blekinge County Council and Karlskrona Municipality. The Southern Naval Command was the employer for the musicians, who were salaried employees. A year later the Band of the Swedish Navy (MMK) was transferred to the Armed Forces Music Centre (FöMusC) and is now a part of the Southern Defence Music Division serving all of southern Sweden. Regular appearances abroad The Band of the Swedish Navy has a key role as a representative of not only specifically Swedish military music, but also for Swedish wind orchestra music in general. This role encompasses contact with and support for the entire wind music movement in Sweden. The broad range of contacts includes amateur bands, youth orchestras, home guard and other voluntary bands within the Armed Forces, music teachers and educational institutions on various levels, as well as composers and arrangers of music for wind orchestra. This network provides a constant interface for training, development and joint production.
The Band of the Swedish Navy also represents Sweden and Swedish music in a clearlydefined manner through its regular appearances in international venues. On these occasions, the band often receives well-deserved attention and acclaim. MMK is well represented and documented on CD on the Serpent label. During a year, MMK will make around 140 appearances including a broad repertoire and events, ranging from serious concerts with classic music to simple military ceremonies, entertainment concerts for a wide public and solemn national ceremonies. Music for children is also a large part of the band's repertoire, especially during special children's music weeks when MMK plays at schools and day-care centres.
Currently there are 30 musicians and the band is the only full-time military band in Sweden. In addition to the purely military duties, MMK has a comprehensive concert schedule with a very broad repertoire intended to satisfy both a new and its existing audience, to create innovative thinking and to preserve traditions.
Another large segment of the band's schedule is taken up by various unit appearances. MMK plays for ceremonies like soldier recognition and graduations at different units, mostly in the southern military district. During certain summer weeks, the Band of the Swedish Navy also plays at the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. On such occasions, the band leads the popular parade from the Army Museum through central Stockholm up to the formal ceremony in the outer courtyard.
The Band of the Swedish Navy
Östra Prinsgatan 2
S-371 31 Karlskrona SWEDEN
Phone +46 455 858 30
Fax +46 455 858 36