This concert overture, commissioned by the Band of the Coldstream Guards in 2002, tells the story of General Monck’s historic journey involving seven thousand troops on the arduous march from Coldstream to London during the winter of 1660. The main tune heard throughout the piece is based on an old traditional melody actually called Monck’s March, long celebrated in the folk and morris-dancing worlds. The Northumbrian pipes herald a call to arms from the regimental drums, and the journey begins on New Year’s Day with the sounds of Auld Lang Syne still ringing in their ears. After the initial euphoria the march becomes exhausting; the troops covered about twenty miles a day, and the roads they moved on were very bad, especially in winter, with both rations and medicine being in short supply. It is inevitable that thoughts would have turned to families and loved ones left far behind, and this is depicted in a quieter interlude.
A delightfully human incident is represented in the next section. The night before Monck marched in to the City of London, he and his troops set up camp in Barnet. A contemporary account takes up the story: “The English Regiments being long accustomed to a lazy life in the luxury of the town were very unwilling to exchange their old quarters in the city for coarser entertainment in the country, so began a mutiny in the suburbs, and a multitude of apprentices beat up their drums in the city, declaring for a free Parliament. The Council of State were so alarmed with the disorders in the city that, late in the night, they dispatched messengers to Scot in the General’s quarters at Barnet, desiring Monck to halt his march into the city. Mr Scot was so affrighted out of his sleep that he could not stay to dress himself, but in the dishabit of his nightgown, cap and slippers, hurried to the General’s quarters, where he made a terrible representation of this mutiny in the city, requiring General Monck to beat his drums instantly, and march forward. But the General, that did not used to be alarmed with every little noise, returned him an answer calmly, and persuaded Mr Scot to return to his bed, and put his fears under his pillow.”
Monck’s March concludes with Monck’s triumphant entry in to the City of London on February 3rd, 1660. The feared mutiny had been quelled, and the General “took his own time to march leisurely that morning into London, the three Regiments of Horse first, and the General mounted at the head of them, with his trumpets before him.” The ancient London street-cry of “oranges and lemons” rings out as the troops pass through the city gates, and the long journey from Coldstream is complete.
Publisher: Faber Music
Item Code: 057156674X
Series: Faber Wind Band