30 JUNE, SUNDAY 5 pm
2nd Castle Court

Schwarzenberg Guard Jazzband

Martin Voříšek – saxophone, clarinet, band master
Zbyněk Malý – violin, vocals
Petr Koptiš – trumpet
Jaroslav Kurzweil – trombone
Jan Janda – saxophone, clarinet
Marek Rejhon – guitar, banjo
Jakub Šafr – piano
Petr Pospíšil – double-bass, bass saxophone
Jan Kubeš – percussion
Jiří Tröstl – vocals

 

For the purposes of the Chamber Music Festival, we have decided to revive the guard jazz band in its original, documented configuration. So as to attain as authentic a sound as possible, we have brought together a group of musicians who, over the long term, have devoted to performing 1920s-1940s jazz music and have gained their experience in renowned traditionalist ensembles: the Original Prague Syncopated Orchestra, Ondřej Havelka’s Melody Makers, Jan Matoušek’s Prague Swing Orchestra and the Harlemania swing orchestra, to name but a few.

Within a promenade concert, we will attempt to revive one of the incarnations of the Schwarzenberg Guard music ensemble, which performed in the Český Krumlov region from the 1870s to the end of World War II. The guard was most likely established in 1703 and, in addition to protecting the Schwarzenberg family members, its main purpose rested in representing them outwardly. Over the course of time, this symbolic importance markedly prevailed over the guardsmen’s diminishing military duties; after all, even back in the 19th century the public perceived the private Schwarzenberg Guard as a unique historicising phenomenon. Consequently, there was an increasingly urgent need for the grenadiers to have additional employment that would boost their meagre basic income. The fact that in the last quarter of the 19th century they also took up musical activities primarily resulted from the immense boom and popularity enjoyed by military orchestras at the time. Initially, most probably by sheer chance, the newly hired guard members also included musicians, who at first only supplemented the band of the Schwarzenberg adjuncts during autumn hunts around the Hluboká chateau. Circa 1875, however, the grenadiers formed an independent ensemble that over the years expanded to include other, this time already wittingly enrolled musicians, before in 1881 the guardsmen in the Schwarzenbergs’ services definitively replaced the hunting music band.

Formally, the major task of the grenadiers’ orchestra was to perform before the Schwarzenberg family members, yet these duties were actually limited to a few days a year. They above all encompassed musical accompaniment to the mentioned hunts, with the guardsmen providing jingles, fanfares and music for the subsequent concerts or dance parties. Of a rather sporadic nature were the performances that served to sweeten the aristocrats’ summer stays at the chateau in Červený Dvůr. Far more often did the ensemble involve themselves in the public musical life in Český Krumlov and environs. Owing to the all-round training provided to military musicians, the ensemble was able to perform both as a brass band and string orchestra, and shortly before the outbreak of World War I, it comprised no fewer than 20 members. According to the survived reports, the guard played at public festivities, as well as at amateur theatre performances, concerts, balls, parties and funerals.

These musical activities decreased in the wake of the outbreak of World War I and as a result of the post-war agrarian reform, which had an extremely negative impact on the operation of the Schwarzenberg family’s homestead. The ensemble was only revived at the turn of the 1920s and 30s, a phase that will be recalled at our concerts. The economic situation only made it possible to employ eight to nine permanent members of the band who, with respect to the period requirements, most frequently performed as a jazz (or rather salon) orchestra.

The majority of the Central European audience of the time identified the term “jazz” with contemporary fashionable dances, first and foremost the foxtrot, but also with the tango or waltz, for instance. We will try, to a certain extent, to focus on this practice within our productions. The repertoire of the guard band has been exclusively drawn from its music archive, preserved in the library of the Český Krumlov Castle. With regard to the ethnic structure of the city’s interwar population, it mainly consists of pieces issued by German and Austrian publishers, yet there are also a few popular Czech songs.