The Royal Military School of Music…


We believe the above clipping relates to the following two pieces of information regarding the founding of The Royal Military School of Music in 1857 at Kneller Hall.

The first from COMPOSERS’ FORUM

Military Music and its Ancient Traditions

by Stephen Lines on October 13, 2016 at 8:51am

There are pleasures associated with Great Britain having a long and illustrious history. An example of which was an announcement in the Daily Telegraph, Court & Social pages on 11th October 2016 in which I couldn’t help noticing  mention of an inaugural Scutari Dinner held by the Corps of (British) Army Music at the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM), Kneller Hall where, we are informed, “the band performed the National Anthem appallingly”.

However, my initial surprise and horror turned to amusement when I recalled that the RMSM was established in 1857 at the instigation of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, the commander-in-chief of the army. In 1854 he had attended a parade in Scutari, in Turkey, to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. The twenty British Army bands on parade were required to combine in a performance of the national anthem. The custom, at that time, was for regiments to hire civilian bandmasters for their bands, each of whom had free rein in both the instrumentation of the band and the arrangements it played.

With each band playing God Save the Queen simultaneously in different arrangements and keys the result was an embarrassing and humiliating cacophony. The Duke decided that there should be some standardisation in army music and so formed the RMSM. The ‘appalling’ rendition at the inaugural dinner was therefore a suitable commemoration.

Does anyone have knowledge of similarly entertaining tales relating to music generally or to military music specifically?

The second from the Army website concerning the Corps of Music and The Royal Military School of Music


The Royal Military School of Music was established in 1857 at Kneller Hall.

In 1854 during the Crimean War a grand military revue was held at Scutari in Turkey to celebrate the birthday of HRH Queen Victoria.

During the parade the approximately 20 Bands were required to combine in a performance of the National Anthem.

The custom at this time was for Regiments to hire civilian Bandmasters for their bands each of whom had free reign in both the instrumentation and the arrangements it played.

With each band having a different instrumentation, pitch and arrangement the result was an embarrassing and humiliating cacophony.

Among those present was George, Duke of Cambridge (a cousin of Queen Victoria), who was commanding the 1st Division in the Crimea.

He determined that the lack of central coordination in the training of military musicians should be rectified.
When he was subsequently appointed Commander in Chief of the Army in 1856 he set about exploring options to improve the standard of military music.

The most popular suggestion at that time was to emulate the French Army which had established the Gymnase de Musique Militaire twenty years earlier as a central college for military music.

This was the option that the Duke of Cambridge decided upon and the first ‘Military Music Class’ commenced at Kneller Hall in 1857 with 85 pupils from 48 different regiments.

The first Director of Music was Henry Schallen, who had been the Bandmaster of the 17th Lancers when the Duke of Cambridge was the Commanding Officer.

The School was established at Kneller Hall which had been acquired by the War Office a year earlier. Originally known as Whitton Hall after the nearby village the building is thought to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

It remained in private hands undergoing several rebuilds until it was bought by the government in 1850 to provide premises for the training of schoolmasters who were to teach the children of paupers and criminals. It was one of the first Pestelozzi schools in England, but was conceptually ahead of its time and closed five years later in 1855.

The Military School of Music quickly achieved the results desired by its founder and thirty years after its foundation during the Queen’s Jubilee it was granted the title Royal, becoming The Royal Military School of Music.

During its 150 years of existence the school has earned an international reputation as a centre of excellence and Kneller Hall has become the spiritual home of many generations of Army musicians.

Over its long existence the school has remained at the forefront of military music.

Here is a rather amusing reply to the post from Composer’s Forum above…

Reply by Michael Lofting on October 20, 2016 at 2:43pm

Bagpipes were considered a weapon of war until 1996.

A piper was captured at the battle of Culloden and taken to trial as a traitor to the crown. He argued that he was not carrying any weapons just his pipes. The judge, not wanting to release him, ruled that as pipers signal the attack for their regiment the pipes must be a weapon of war.

The piper was hung, drawn and quartered.

On a lighter note…

” terrorists hijacked a plane on the ground carrying a pipe band going to the tattoo. They threatened to release a piper every hour their demands were not met.”


About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
This entry was posted in About Brendan Ball and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Royal Military School of Music…

  1. frenchhorn2015 says:

    Was interested to find out more about this!

  2. brendanball says:

    I’ll include it below the above ‘cutting’.

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