IRISH ARMY BANDS HISTORY

Defence Forces Concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

Defence Forces Concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Defence Forces annual benefit concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin with members of the combined army bands marked the 90th anniversary of the Army School of Music. The programme contained some fascinating articles and photos about the history of music in the Irish army, including the appointment in March 1923 of two senior German army officers who were musicians to lead the new school once the Irish Free State was established.

Pipes & Drums at the Concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

Pipes & Drums at the Concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Director of the DF School of Music Lt Col Mark Armstrong writes about his predecessor, the first director, Colonel Fritz Brase, who had been a very highly regarded German bandmaster. He led the school until his death in 1940. Brase brought with him another talented musician, Captain Friedrich Christian Sauerzweig. The first public performance by the new army band was on October 14th 1923, exactly ninety years ago, at the Theatre Royal in Dublin.

Celine Byrne and Lt Col Mark Armstrong are applauded  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Celine Byrne and Lt Col Mark Armstrong are applauded Photo: © Michael Fisher

In 1922 when the state was founded General Risteard Mulcahy was the first Minister for Defence. To advise on the formation of an Irish military music school, he appointed Dr John F.Larchet, who was then Professor of Music at University College Dublin.

Therein lies another connection with the past. The National Concert Hall in Earlsfort Terrace was for many years the main building for UCD. Indeed I remember doing first year Arts exams in the Aula Maxima, which has now been transformed into an international concert hall and provided the splendid setting for Saturday night’s concert.

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