Russian military bands
Russian Military bands fall under the jurisdiction of the Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of Russia, which is the official music service for the Russian Armed Forces, and led by the Senior Director of Music, a billet of an officer with the rank of a Colonel or a general officer. There are currently between 200 and 300 military bands in the Russian Armed Forces that span across the military as well as all uniformed services in the country. Unlike mostly western nations, the Armed Forces does not maintain any bands composed of volunteering civilian musicians, as all bands, active or reserve, are manned by graduates of the military music training centers stationed anywhere in the country, as well as of civilian conservatories. While choirs may be attached to military bands, individual staff choirs do not exist in the Russian Armed Forces, since they have attached instrumental ensembles or orchestras. As of 2019, all military musicians are paid around 13,000 rubles ($203.11) for their service in the Armed Forces.
- 1 Purpose
- 2 History
- 3 Repertoire
- 4 List
- 5 Musical Training
- 6 Characteristics
- 7 Notable current and former musicians in the Russian/Soviet Armed Forces
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Video sources
The military band service is designed to provide encouragement and to increase patriotism for the military servicemen and women of the Ground Forces, the Navy and the Aerospace Forces. Former director of bands in the Russian Armed Forces Valery Khalilov described the effect these bands have in the following 2005 interview:
Military music is incredibly important for Russians, because military music is a component of the Russian army, and the army has always played a crucially important role in protecting Russia’s great statehood and in making it a powerful nation.
Historically, in Russia and around the world, military bands have been used to facilitate commands to troops and lead armies into battle.
For a country that has not just one of the largest armed forces in the world but also has produced some of the greatest composers and musicians, the modern day military band tradition of Russia traces its origins to decree No. 2319 of Peter the Great enacted on Feb. 19, 1711, which mandated the formation of military bands and field music formations within both the Imperial Russian Army and the nascent Imperial Russian Navy following the Western practices. As both the Army's two foundation regiments (the Preobrazhensky Regiment and the Semyonovsky Regiment) had their own bands and corps of drums, which would also inspire the formation of the bands and fanfare band units within the artillery and the cavalry, the age of Peter the Great, aside from laying the foundation of the armed forces, also began centuries of the Russian military band tradition, which continues until today. Russian bands have evolved in every period since then, and as parts of the armed forces military bands were utilized more in wartime and peacetime ceremonial duties during the Imperial era, bandsmen and field musicians (drummers, buglers, fanfare trumpeters and fifers) having fought in almost every military operation fought by the army and the navy. In 1804, military bands were introduced in the Baltic and Black Sea, as well as in Cossack forces in the Urals and in Orenburg.
The Imperial Russian Army and the Imperial Russian Navy continued the practice, with composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who was the civilian Inspector of Naval Bands from 1873-1884, being considered to be the pioneer of Russian naval music. By 1914, military bands had become a part of Russian daily life. The establishment of the Central Military Band of the People's Commissariat of Defense in 1927 marked the creation of the first modern professional military band in the country, after which military bands became part of Russian/Soviet culture. The reform of the bands begun in 1948-1949 under the assistant director of the band service, Major General Ivan Petrov, and continued on until the 1970s. It was only in the late 1980s and early 90s was the presence of Soviet military bands available in military tattoos in the West, with the Band of the Moscow Military District and the Band of the Odessa Military District both participating in tattoos in the Netherlands in 1990.
The repertoire of the military band service spans across hundreds of pieces, which included ceremonial and marching music. It also includes patriotic songs, such as the following music pieces:
|Presidential Fanafare||Pavel Borisovich Ovsjannikov|
|National anthem of Russia||Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov|
|Moscow Fanfare||A. Golovin|
|The Sacred War||Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov|
|March of the Preobrazhensky Regiment||unknown|
|Farewell of Slavianka||Vasily Agapkin|
|Den Pobedy||David Tukhmanov|
|Song of the Soviet Army||Alexander Aleksandrov|
|Long Live our State||Boris Alexandrovich Alexandrov|
|March of the Artillerymen||Tikhon Khrennikov|
|March of the Defenders of Moscow||Boris Mokrousov|
|Air March||Yuli Kant|
|Pervym delom samoljoty||Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi|
|Jubilee Slow March "25 Years of the Red Army"||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|March of the Tankists||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|Salute to Moscow||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|The Red Army's Entry into Bucharest||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|The Red Army's Entry into Budapest||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|Slow March of the Artillery||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|Slow March of the Tankists||Semyon Tchernetsky|
|In Defence of the Motherland||Viktor Runov|
|On Guard For Peace||Boris Diev|
|Phlanx March||Dmitry Pertsev|
|Slow March of the Red Army||Semyon Tchernetsky|
Some of these musical pieces are used elsewhere in the militaries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Bands of Military AcademiesEdit
- Military Band of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory
- Band of the Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
- Training Band Wing of the Moscow Suvorov Military Music College Lieutenant-General VM Khalilov
- Moscow Cadet Music Corps
- Band of the Combined Arms Academy of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
- Band of the Far Eastern Higher Combined Arms Command School - It was founded in 1940 in Vladivostok. Many of its members took part in the Great Patriotic War. It is currently located in Blagoveshchensk.
- Band of N. G. Kuznetsov Naval Academy - It is currently led by 3rd rank Captain Dmitry Misyura. It's official military repertoire includes Signal "Gathering!"(V.Pavlov), Signal "Changing of the Guard" (V.Pavlov) and March "The Ship's bell (Valery Khalilov)
- Band of the Peter the Great Military Academy of the Rocket Forces of Strategic Importance
- Band of the Moscow Border Institute of the FSB of the Russian Federation
- Band of the Ryazan Airborne Command Academy
- Band of the MES Civil Defense Academy
- Band of the Gagarin-Zhukovsky Air Force Academy
- Band of the A.V. Khrulyov Military Logistics Academy
- Band of the Semyon Timoshenko Military University of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense
- Band of the Russian Signal Troops Academy
Bands of Military DistrictsEdit
- Military Band of the Western Military District in Saint Petersburg
- Military Band of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don
- Military Band of the Central Military District in Ekaterinburg
- Military Band of the Eastern Military District in Khabarovsk
- Military Band of the Northern Fleet in Severomorsk
Bands of the Armed ForcesEdit
- Presidential Band of the Russian Federation - not directly under the RGF but under the direct control of the Kremlin Regiment
- Special Exemplary Military Band of the Guard of Honor Battalion of Russia
- Band of the 154th Preobrazhensky Regiment
- Band of the 2nd Tamanskaya Guards Ind. Motor Rifle Division "Mikhail Kalinin"
- Band of the 4th Kantemir Guards Tank Division "Yuri Andropov"
- Band of the 25th Sevastopol Guards Motor Rifle Brigade
- Band of the 150th Rifle Division
- HQ Band of the 2nd Guards Army
- Band of the Russian 201st Military Base
- Band of the Russian 102nd Military Base
- Band of the 27th Motor Rifle Brigade
- Central Band of the Strategic Missile Troops
- Central Navy Band of Russia
- Admiralty Navy Band of Russia
- Military Band of the Black Sea Fleet
- Military Band of the Baltic Fleet
- Military Band of the Pacific Fleet
- Military Band of the Caspian Flotilla
- Band of the 336th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade
- Central Band of the Russian Air Force
- Band of the 1st Aerospace and Missile Defence Forces Army
- Band of the 6th Air and Air Defense Army
- Central Band of the Russian Airborne Forces
- HQ Band of the 98th Guards Airborne Division
- HQ Band of the 106th Tula Guards Airborne Division
- Blue Berets Band (not directly controlled by the military band service)
- Central Band of the Russian Space Forces
- Brass Band of the Baikonur Cosmodrome of the Space Troops
Bands of Russian Ministries and affiliate agenciesEdit
- Central Military Band of the Ministry of Defense of Russia (also known as the Red Army Band in the West)
- Band of the 147th of the Automobile Base of the Ministry of Defense
Not under the Armed Forces but under other agencies:
- Military Band Service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia
- Military Band Service of the National Guard of Russia
- Police Band Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia
- Central Band of the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of Russia
Under the Soviet Armed Forces and disbanded bands under the current Russian Armed Forces:
- Military Band Service of the Southern Group of Forces
- Military Band Service of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
- Military Band Service of the Central Group of Forces
- Military Band Service of the Northern Group of Forces
- Band of the Group of Soviet Forces in Mongolia
- Band of the Russian Transcaucasus Group of Forces
- HQ Band of the Far Eastern Military District
- 11th HQ Band of the Turkestan Military District
- 14th HQ Band of the Kiev Military District
- 9th HQ Band of the Odessa Military District
- HQ Band of the Central Asian Military District
- Band of the Pushkin Air Defense Radioelectronical High School of the Soviet Air Defence Forces
Under the Imperial Russian Army and the Imperial Russian Navy:
- Mokshansky Regimental Band
- HQ Band of the Imperial Life Guards and Petersburge Military District
- Band of the Preobrazhensky Life-Guard Regiment
- Band of the Semyonovsky Life Guard Regiment
- Band of the Pavlovsky Life-Guard Regiment
- Fanfare Band of His Imperial Majesty's Lifeguards Cossack Regiment
- Fanfare Section and Brass Band of His Imperial Majesty's Life Guard Horse Artillery Brigade
- Mounted Brass Band of the Life Guard Horse Regiment
- Band of the Alexander Military Institute
- Band of the Naval Cadet Corps Saint Petersburg
After the 1917 October Revolution, the educational institutions of military bandmasters at conservatories in Petrograd and Moscow, as well as at the Warsaw Music Institute, were closed. In connection with the changing socio-political conditions and new ideological guidelines, a new system of musical education in the military was created. One of the first steps of the new Soviet government was the 1921 opening of classes at the Tashkent and Petrograd Military Music Schools. A year later, the Tashkent Military Music School was transferred to Petrograd and merged into the Petrograd Military Music School before being disbanded a year later. The remaining 30 students were transferred to the 8th Petrograd Infantry School. Due to the transfer of the school to Kiev, music conservatories became involved in the development of military music. In 1932, a bandmaster class was organized at the Frunze Military Academy with a three-year term of study was established. By the mid-thirties, with the increase in the number of the Red Army, a large number of new military educational institutions, including military faculties at civilian educational institutions, had been created for the training and preparation of senior musical personnel. Among these faculties, the Military Department of the Moscow Conservatory on the basis of order No. 183 on 28 November 1935 was created. More institutions would be established in the 40s and 50s and advanced through the 60s and 70s.
In October 1964, the first group of foreign students from the Mongolian People's Republic became enrolled in military musical institutions. In subsequent years, the number of students that came was expanded, with some coming form Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Yemen, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Since 1994, a special department had been operating at the Military Conducting Department, students of which come form countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, with many graduates organizing military bands in their newly created home countries.
The military conductor of the massed city garrison bands is responsible for providing general garrison events with military bands of military units and for the preparation, training, administration and formation of massed garrison bands in their area of responsibility.
In addition, they are, according to Article 36 of a decree by the President of Russia, responsible for coordinating the musical accompaniement of military units without military bands and assist the commanders of these military units in the training of drummers and extra musicians. They also lead instruction classes with military conductors and senior military band personnel. When on parade, they are usually referred to as the Chief Military Director (Главный военный дирижер) or Director of music as known in some Western countries. The Moscow area garrison massed bands are the country's seniormost massed bands formation, and its conductor holds the billet of Senior Director of Music of the Military Band Service.
The position of garrison conductor of massed military bands is present in many other Russian major cities.
In the Russian military, drum majors (Russian: Тамбурмажор) are commissioned officers who also serve as deputy band leaders and conductors. Although they are not required to be drummers, they but must have long experience as a military bandsman. The title was introduced in 1815 by the Imperial Russian Army. The uniform consisted of gold/silver galloons and a pair of epaulettes. The title was abolished in 1865 only for army regiments only to be reintroduced in the Red Army in 1918. The position was toned down following World War Two, however was reevived in the mid-60s as style that could be differentiated with the Western version. All Russian drum majors are trained in military music schools and institutes like the Moscow Military Music College and the College of Military Music. During parades, they carry maces with either their service or full dress uniform. The ceremonial maces they carry are held by their right hand and are thrusted up and down consistently to keep the band in step and on beat.
Fanfare trumpets in the military band service are an important part of state events and military band culture. Usually located at the front of a single band formation or in massed bands formation, the area of expertise of fanfare trumpeters in the armed forces includes playing specially composed fanfares such as the Moscow Fanfare or the Fanfare of the President of the Russian Federation. They were first seen in modern military parades in the 1920s, equipped with an elongated bell allowing for a flag or tabard to be hung. Most soldiers who were in the position of fanfare trumpeter were dressed in slightly different uniforms than the rest of the band, usually a different color of the full dress uniform. The natural chromatic fanfare trumpet model is used in many military bands in Russia, with similar ones also being used in military styled marching bands in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. During the Imperial period and up to the early decades of the Soviet Armed Forces these fanfare trumpets were kept as an important regalia for the unit, having the same status as a regimental colour, the first such instruments were granted as battle honours in 1737 and Guards Fanfare Trumpets with the Ribbon of St. George debuted for the Imperial Guard in 1805. When a unit band was disbanded, the fanfare trumpets were transferred to the Museum of the Red Army (now the Central Armed Forces Museum). In 1944, an order to revive the practice, this time for distinguished service in the Red Army, failed to pass in the Presidum of the Supreme Soviet, but nevertheless the fanfare trumpets were given to outstanding bands of units for service to the homeland in times of war. In the ground forces and air force bands the fanfare trumpets, then as is now, have scarlet tabbards with the symbol of the Band Service on them in gold at the center and is surrounded with gold fringe, the symbol is that of two crossed natural chromatic fanfare trumpets with a lyre, symbol of military music, at the center. In the naval bands, the tabard, gold fringed, is in the form of a small version of the state naval ensign.
Field snare drummers of massed bandsEdit
The late decades of Soviet rule also saw the reintroduction of another aspect of military bands in Russia: the field snare drummers, which are a modern form of the days wherein snare drummers lead out their bands or their respective units on parade (the latter when with buglers, fifers and/or fanfare trumpeters) or when in massed bands formation. They first appeared during the October Revolution Day parade of 1981, and the Special Exemplary Military Band of the Guard of Honor Battalion of Russia pioneered the use of the drums when they first adopted them for state arrival and wreath laying ceremonies in 1978-1979. These drummers typically carry large or small sized side marching snare drums fitted with rubber or cotton slings, during the 1980s the drums were painted red and white with the red star cap badge of the Soviet Armed Forces in the center and gold borders. Today, of all select cities that have had massed bands formation for major parades during the 1980s, only 4 now maintain the practice for major national holidays (Moscow, Krasnodar, Sevastopol (introduced 2018) and Khabarovsk (introduced 2017)), formerly it was standard use in the massed bands in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Rostov-on-Don, among others. In Moscow, the field snare drummers today wear the same uniforms as the fanfare trumpeters to honor their Imperial predecessors.
Corps of DrumsEdit
Most military academies and cadet schools, as well as a number of HQ and support units of military formations and commands, maintain a corps of drums (known locally as rota barabanshchiki) that are specifically brought out during military parades. Corps of drums are always made a separate part of military bands and are usually led by a drum major in the place of the director of music of a certain band and are the first formation to march past the saluting grandstand in parades, with its drummers first sounding a drumbeat cadence that keeps the parade on the beat before they march past. If possible, the corps of drums of the local Suvorov or Nakhimov Naval School would be used during events of national importance. The most famous of these special units in the international sphere would be the Corps of Drums of the Valery Khalilov Moscow Military Music College, first unveiled during the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 and has since been regular participant in the October Revolution Day (1938 to 1990), May Day (1938 to 1968) and Victory Day (1965, 1985, 1990, 1995–2008, 2012-) parades on Red Square. A Turkish crescent for the college was used as its unit symbol during the Soviet era until it was replaced in 1995 by a colour guard squad. Most of these corps have an instrumentation that includes snare drums, fifes, trumpets, glockenspiels and on occasion, chromatic fanfare trumpets and trombones, and its musicians wear the service or full dress uniform of their respective unit or educational institution.
The uniforms of Russian military bands vary depending on the unit. Most unit bands utilize the standard dress uniform with the closed collar of the Russian Army (updated in 2017), although the everyday service uniform can also be worn. The Exemplary Band of the Honor Guard has from 1958-1971 and since 2013 worn the full dress uniform of the 3rd Honor Guard Battalion, 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment (known in the Soviet era as the M-1955), which consists of a closed collar uniform with a red chested front with small golden surrounding it. From 1971-2013, the band wore the standard dress uniform of the armed forces. The Central band of the defence ministry wears uniforms similar to the Imperial-style uniforms of the Kremlin Regiment. The Presidential Band performs in all white dress uniforms with blue epaulettes on the sides. The Central Navy Band and all Navy bands wear standard naval uniforms.
Size and compositionEdit
There are 4 variant sizes of military bands. The size depends on the status of the unit/institution of which it is attached. For example, a band of a regiment/brigade formation may only have 18 people, whereas a band of a military academies may have 26 people. Bands of district of headquarters and fleets have 44 people, recruiting personnel from all over their area of responsibility. The largest ones are the bands of service branches and specialized units called Exemplary Bands, numbering around 63 people each. Most military bands are filled with a variety of different types of soldier, whether it be conscripts, cadets or recently civilian musicians.
- The combined bands of the Moscow Garrison (usually composed of over 1,100 musicians) are required to take part in the annual Moscow Victory Day Parade on Red Square under the leadership of the Senior Director of Music of the Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of Russia.
- The Central Military Band of the Ministry of Defense of Russia is also required to take part in the Russian Honor Parade on Red Square on November 7.
- The Special Exemplary Military Band of the Guard of Honor Battalion of Russia performs with the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment during the welcoming of foreign delegations to Russia.
- Being the host of the festival, the senior director of music of the military band service requires Russian military bands to take part in the Spasskaya Tower military tattoo. He serves as the lead co-organizing chairman of the festival and its executive producer.
Notable current and former musicians in the Russian/Soviet Armed ForcesEdit
- Lieutenant General Valery Khalilov – Considered to be the last great conductor to be educated in the Soviet era, he was notable for his policy of promoting Russian military bands on the world stage and his reorganization of the military band service and the massed bands of the Moscow Garrison.
- Captain Alexei Karabanov – Current conductor of the Central Navy Band of Russia and longtime director of the Admiralty Navy Band of Russia from 1985-2008.
- Vasily Agapkin - composer and author of Farewell of Slavianka (written 1912)
- Colonel Armen Poghosyan – Current Director of the Band of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia
- Colonel Alexander Gerasimov – Director of the Moscow Military Music College
- Colonel Dainis Vuskans – Current Director of the Latvian NAF Staff band and former member of the Band of the Kaliningrad Garrison
- Colonel Pavel Makarov – Current Director of the Band of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan and former commander of the 11th Band of the Turkestan Military District
- Major General Volodymyr Derkach – Senior Military Director of the Military Music Department of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from 1995 to 2014
- Major General Yusif Akhundzade – Director of the Central Band of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan since 1992.
- Lieutenant Colonel Yunus Gulzarov – Former director of the Uzbek Ministry of Internal Affairs and former member of the Band of the Soviet Defence Ministry.
- Ilya Shatrov - Former bandmaster of the Mokshansky Regimental Orchestra
- Vladimir Mikhailov - Press Secretary for the Central Band of the Russian Defence Ministry
- Viktor Runov - Notable Russian military composer and former director of various bands in the Moscow area, including the Band of the Moscow Border Guard School of the Soviet Interior Ministry
- Yuri Griboyedov
- Dmitry Pertsev - Director of the Military Band of the Leningrad Military District in the 1970s
- Igor Lifanovsky, Russian French horn player and former member of the Band of the Kiev Military District
- Alexander Salik - Director of the Military Band Service of the Northern Group of Forces from 1979 to 1984 and director of the Military Band Service of the Odessa Military District from 1984 to 1990.
- Stanislav Volynov - Director of the Military Band Service of the Northern Group of Forces from 1984 to 1988.
- Georgy Petrovich Alyavdin - Director of the Central Navy Band of Russia from 1953-1970 and professor of music who's pupils included Valery Khalilov and Captain Alexei Karabanov.
The combined Navy Band of Russia.
The Band of the Volgograd Garrison.
The corps of drums of the Moscow Military Conservatoire during the Victory Parade on Red Square in May 2010.
- Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of Russia
- Military band
- Corps of drums
- Fanfare band
- Canadian military bands
- United States military bands
- List of marching bands
- March (music)
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