This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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German Sea Cadet Bands

10 February 2017

Before the advent of modern air travel, the world was linked by a network of ships. Distance across an ocean was measured in days if not weeks. Travelers aboard a passenger liner passed the time in leisure as if staying a  a seaside hotel. So of course there must be music to fill the hours.

Pictured here in a souvenir postcard of the Erste Hamburger Seekadetten-Kapelle under the direction of Adolf Klüver, Kapellmeister.  This orchestra/band of 13 versatile musicians is an example of the German system of training musicians for musical service on naval or maritime ships. The ensemble has both wind instruments and string instruments to accommodate every style of music, either performing outdoors on deck or inside the ship salon. The men look older than the age typical for cadets. Their formal dress in short jackets, waistcoats, and black bow ties was probably the uniform worn by most musicians employed by steamship lines. 

The card was marked 12 April 1911 from Saabrücken. There is no stamp as it was posted by a soldier as a Soldatenbrief.  In the days of sea travel Hamburg was the main German port for entry and departure from Germany.

* * *

A similar postcard comes Friedberg in Hesse, Germany. It shows the Militär-Musikschule under the direction of Musikdirecktor Schäfer pictured in an inset in the upper right corner. This group of 27 boys are dressed in German sailor suits, and with violins, violas, cellos, and double basses, they constitute an chamber-sized orchestra. Note the pair of tunable kettledrums arranged on opposite sides of the ensemble. This postcard was never mailed but likely was printed around 1910-1915.

Friedberg is a historic Free Imperial City located in central Germany, just north of Frankfurt. It is not close to the sea but evidently Musikdirecktor Schäfer fashioned his school on the Imperial German Naval tradition.

* * *

This third postcard shows another group of boys who are also dressed in sailor suits but strictly speaking are not sea cadets. The caption reads:

Kasseler Ringkreuz-Posaunenchor
(10-13 Jährige Jungen)

This is a brass band of 29 boys posed with rotary-valve trumpets, flugelhorns, and trombones (posaunen) along with a few drummers. They are age 10 to 13 and come from Kassel.

The word Ringkreuz stands for a ringed cross, 🕈, the Christian symbol for a Celtic Cross of the British Isles. In Germany the symbol may have a different connotation, particularly in the year when this card was posted from Köln on 7 March 1932.  [Correction: on closer examination and looking at the message date, the card was posted on 7 August 1932]   The man pictured on the 6 pfennig stamp is Friedrich Ebert (1871-1925), who was elected the first president of the new German Republic in 1919. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Ebert served as Germany's head of state until his death in 1925.

He was succeeded by Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, commonly known as Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), former general field marshal of the Imperial German Army during World War 1. In 1932 Hindenburg was running for a second term as president of Germany. His chief rival was Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), or Nazi Party. The first round of this pivotal German election was on 13 March 1932, only a week after this postcard was mailed. [As corrected above, the postmark was actually 7 August 1932]
Though he was then 84 years old and in poor health, Hindenburg prevailed over Hitler. But the NSDAP party succeeded in setting up conditions that led to Hindenburg appointing Hitler as chancellor of the German government in January 1933.

According to one 1933 reference in a small German newspaper, der Mihlaer Chronik, the Kesseler Ringkreuz-Posaunenchor gave concerts in an effort to raise money to restore church bells taken down during the Great War. They also marched in parades supporting the Nazi party takeover of the civil authorities in Mihla, Germany, a town south east of Kassel.

Yet another example of
how the waves of history
unearth strange artifacts
on today's internet seashore.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where choosing just the right seashell
is always a challenge.


Alan Burnett said...

The photographs - as always - are quite fascinating (as are the descriptions). Even in these days of giant cruise ships with thousands of passengers there is still a ship's band / orchestra, although they are much reduced in numbers these days.
On an entirely different matter let me have your postal address (I seem to have lost it) as I came across a photograph at a antiques fair the other day which is just up your musical street. Alan

Unknown said...

I had a g-great uncle who played for a Marine band out of Boston in the late 1800s/early 1900s. He played all over the world, including Shanghai, from where he sent wonderful letters to his family back in Boston. Great photos...

La Nightingail said...

As always, I enjoyed the photos you've shared here of the maritime youth bands. I suppose one requisite for the members of the bands playing aboard ship is they don't get seasick! Best of all, though, with this particular posting, are your closing words "Yet another example--" Clever. :)

Wendy said...

I like the closing words too. I am always amazed at the number of musical groups you find and their postcards. They certainly kept the tailors of the world busy.

Barbara Rogers said...

While the meme may have left your bands behind, unless you count the seashells that were under those many ships, or your closing words, this was another interesting post about bands. The historic connection of Nazis coming into power compared to some of our more recent political events, is noted as well.

Jofeath said...

So much history in those postcards. Interesting that you feel the need to point out corrections to your blog, whereas I amend/ update mine countless times without mentioning that I've done so.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike,

This is probably a message that you may have never expected having written the story about Hedwig Glomb. I am a Glomb. One of John C Glomb's children was my Grandfather. My dad didn't really know much about her. He said every time she came up they would all get sniffly and not talk about it. I did know about what a great piano player she was and they referred to her as a prodigy. I am going to send this article to my family to see what they think and if they knew any of the details. How did you get some of your major details? What research resources did you use to find this stuff? I want to do research on my family history. All of that side of my family lived in PA. My dad moved to AZ and met my mom which is where I currently reside. I visited them a few times but did not see them often. I did not hear any real stories. I thought with your tips I could get a good start.

I just want thank you for your wonderful tribute to a young talented girl who died before her prime.

If you want to give me an email or way I can give you my email. I do not want to post it to the blog comments. Thank you.


Mike Brubaker said...

Karen (Glomb)
Thank you for your comment about my story on Hedwig Glomb but for some reason it is on this post about German Sea Cadet Bands!? My email contact is on the sidebar under "about me".
Mike Brubaker


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