Friday, June 1, 2012: Strike up the Police Band
The Castle Guard and Czech Police Band
We had been warned about the peacocks.
On our way to the Castle Guard and Czech Police Band concert in honor of František Kmoch May 27 in the Wallenstein Gardens, we were met by the albino. He was rolling about on the grass in the afternoon sun, distracting concert-goers. Rolling about in the grass seemed an excellent idea, but security informed us that such behavior was allowed only for peacocks.
Tickets were free, and the concert was more than sold out, leaving an audience anticipating from the stairs, the walkways, and even (much to security’s dismay) from the grass. Fortunately, the Band soon struck up Muziky, Muziky, a rousing march composed in 1890. The Castle Guard and Police Band seems most at home with marches, but they fleshed out their 17 compositions on the concert list with less militaristic but no less emphatic pieces in the style of the waltz, polka, gallopade, and mazurka.
Kolíne, Kolíne, a march that František Kmoch composed about his town, was much anticipated and very well received. Although Kmoch is the author of over 230 works, and in spite of his international success, he never left his beloved town. In the tradition of folk music, the text of this march expresses what Kmoch, and indeed Czechs, hold dear:
Kolín, Kolín, you are situated in a pretty plain. My beloved waitresses there, my bonny lass
she serves wine there.
A laddie came there, her fancier. He had himself poured some wine, still he dozes over it, sitting behind the table.
Don’t sit and snooze, rather pour some wine so people won’t talk and give us away, that you are my love.
I did not come to you to pour wine. I came for love, beautiful face, to love you.
Kmoch composed his marches during the turbulent periods leading up to the First World War when the Czech lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Beer may have replaced wine to a large extent, but the lyrics represent a pretty much universal sentiment of fighting men far from their homes. Regardless of the overlords, love and alcohol define this nation.
The Band played several encores, including the Czech National Anthem. Everybody in the Wallenstein Gardens stood up, including a pea hen in a suitably striking pose. And as for the manly men of the Castle Guard and Czech Police Band: they deservedly wear their uniforms well – like peacocks in all their splendor. — oo
– Hana and Frank Trollman
Photo Credits: Frank Trollman