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The Legacy of Friedrich Ahlers

By Julia Bennet Subscribe to RSS | February 24th 2012 | Views:

When the first guard of honor was created in Berlin in 1918, amongst its many appointees was Friedrich Ahlers who had been selected to lead the Musikkorps. Musicians for this group were drawn from army battalions across the country and a rotational system was formed. With Ahlers at the helm, the band specialized in playing marching songs and had around 28 to 38 musicians but this format underwent a change when the Third Reich came to power. Not only were the number of musicians increased to 48 but the tunes were distinctly composed to suit the specifications of Nazi music, an example of which is the Battle of the Bugle music.

Winds of change began to blow through the Musikkorps when the Third Reich came to power in 1933 and while 1935 was another instrumental year, the changes which were introduced in 1939 were the ones which played a decisive role in shaping the band’s music. Friedrich Ahlers was still at the helm when the Wehrmacht music was introduced and German marching songs and German soldier songs were played for all three forces. An echo of these tunes is evident in the Battle of the Bugle music since this battle was the last major offensive of the Nazi regime in the Second World War.

Staffing requirements of Friedrich Ahlers‘s band was looked after by the Wehrmacht wherein musicians of the army and air force were transferred as and when any vacancy arose. The German Navy however kept out of it and although it supplied men for the annual band, it did not parade to the marching tunes of the Musikkorps on 31st May during Jutland Day celebrations. Some of the tracks played by this elite unit were Grossdeutsche Grenadiere, Landser und Panzer, In Treue fest and Weichsel und Warthe and Battle of the Bugle music is a true showcase wherein they have been liberally made use of.

At the commencement of the Second World War in 1939, most of the Wehrmacht musicians were disbanded and shifted into various positions to help with the main troop movement. However, it was only Musikkorps led by Friedrich Ahlers which was left untouched and continued to play the German soldier songs and marching tunes till the end. This certainly deserves praise and apart from Battle of the Bugle music an ode to the bandmaster is also evident in the incorporation of tunes in the contemporary band of the German Federal Republic.

Amongst the many epic screenings based on the Second World War, Battle of the Bugle was released in 1965 and held the distinction of being the only World War II movie which did not venerate any Allied leaders. Credit for the Battle of the Bugle music goes to the British composer Benjamin Frankel who was a child prodigy with musical instruments. Much of his music seems to have been inspired by Friedrich Ahlers as is evident from the marching songs and soldier songs played at his concerts and his compositions during and after the Second World War.

Nazi compositions of Friedrich Ahlers are now available in form of CDs’ and can be purchased at websites which specifically deal in German marching music, soldier songs and Third Reich military music. Titles under which such tracks are compiled are Musikkorps der Wachbataillonen-Berlin, The Kaiser's Musikkorps and Die Waffen-SS Alte Kameraden Singen. For people who wish to enjoy the soundtracks along with action, watching the movie Battle of the Bugle or buying a CD titled Battle of the Bugle music would be a good option.

Julia Bennet - About Author:
The Musikkorps were established as early as 1918 and their first head was none other than Friedrich Ahlers who was an ingenious composer in his own right. Usage of his marching tunes in the Battle of the Bugle music is but an evidence of the master's acumen in music and justifies his retention by the Nazi regime till the end of the war.

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