The Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards outside Buckingham Palace, 2017
The Band of the Grenadier Guards is one of the oldest and most famous military bands in the world. It has a vast and illustrious history dating back over 300 years where it was formed under the rule of King Charles II on his return to power from exile. King Charles II restored not only the Monarchy to England but also patronage of the arts, not least by laying the foundations of the Band of the Grenadier Guards when he commissioned twelve âhautboisâ (oboe) players to the First Regiment of Foot Guards in 1685.
The Regiment was to become known as the Grenadier Guards after their victory on the battlefield at Waterloo. The death of King Charles II in 1685 was so significant for the band that until the Second World War, the Bass Drummer (known officially as The Regimental Timebeater), wore a black armband in mourning of the king's death.
The Band of the Grenadier Guards has been filling the streets of London with pomp and ceremony for over three centuries, and is a truly historic sight and sound. The Band has served 15 monarchs over 325 years with dedication and pride and it has been present at all the major royal occasions: births, coronations, weddings and funerals. The Band has been a witness to all London's key historic events, both tragic and joyful; it raised morale during the darkest hours of the Second World War and its uplifting music ushered in a new beginning at the coronation of the present queen.
The "British Grenadiers Marchâ is one of the most recognisable and memorable tunes in the world and is part of Britain's musical heritage. One of the band's admirers during the 18th century was George Frideric Handel â so much so that he presented the march from Scipio to the regiment before including it in his opera of that name when it was first performed in 1726. George II gave Handel the task of re-scoring the Music for the Royal Fireworks, most commonly performed with strings, for the king's own musicians, who were wind players from his foot guards. Handel would have undoubtedly come into contact with musicians from the Grenadier Guards during the first performance at Vauxhall Gardens in 1749.
Throughout the history of the United Kingdom the music of the Grenadier Guards has been the backdrop to its national life and identity and the band carries this tradition on with precision and pride.
Real Lives Interviews
Lance Sergeant David Wong, Solo Clarinet: Clarinet Concerto in A, W A Mozart
For his interview as part of the Orchestra of the Household Division release 29 August 2020
Lance Sergeant Ben Beavis, Principal Trumpet
For his interview as part of the Grenadier Guards Regiment release 26 September 2020