Music for the Duke of Cumberland’s Band

"Catalogue of Music for H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland’s Private Band." Cover

Within the larger Archive of predominantly vocal, keyboard, and chamber genres, a distinct group of materials identified as music for the Duke of Cumberland’s private band contains hundreds of works for band and orchestra ensembles, dating circa 1790-1812.  The eighth child and fifth son of George III, Ernest Augustus held the title Duke of Cumberland from 1799 and became King of Hanover in 1837.  In his youth, Ernest Augustus attended the Universität Göttingen, received military training in Hanover, and served in the Hanoverian army during the period of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.  After his return to England, Ernest Augustus remained active in politics and the military, and was often seen as a controversial figure, drawing allegations of both political misconduct and personal scandal. 

The music of his private band reveals Ernest Augustus’s musical interests, and provides evidence of how works for large ensembles were circulated, adapted, and heard by audiences in private venues.  This material is an apparently intact group, consisting of complete sets of parts for performers, either printed music or arrangements in copyist’s manuscript, each in an original annotated folder.  Music is typically for an ensemble of clarinets, flute, bassoons, serpent, horns, trumpets, trombone, and timpani.  Some works include additional woodwinds, brass, or percussion, and some are for orchestra with strings, or for chamber ensembles.  Accompanying the music is a manuscript catalog, shown above, listing “Favourite Pieces for Playing” and “Military Music” identified by title, composer, and arranger.

"Catalogue of Music for H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland’s Private Band." Sample page

Manuscript arrangements for band include works by major composers, both of previous generations, such as Purcell or Handel, and contemporary composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.  Among lesser-known composers, some are identified as musicians employed in the Duke’s band or in other private or military ensembles.  One example is John Collier, who is represented in the Archive by twelve compositions and arrangements.  Among his published works is this march and waltz composed for the Duke of Cumberland and dedicated to George IV as Prince Regent:

Collier, John. H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland’s New March & Waltz (London: W. Milhouse)

Collier is identified as “Master of H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland’s Band” on the title pages of several of his published works, such as this arrangement for band of a work by Ignaz Pleyel:

Collier, John. A Grand Sonata Dedicated to the Queen by Ignace Pleyel (London: W. Milhouse)

Original folders for music of the Duke’s band are headed “H. R. H. E. D. C.” (His Royal Highness, Ernest Duke of Cumberland) and a shelf mark.  The folder for Collier’s Pleyel arrangement includes an incipit of the work:

Collier, John. A Grand Sonata Dedicated to the Queen by Ignace Pleyel (London: W. Milhouse). original folder

Images of the complete set of parts are available in Beinecke’s Digital Library.

Among other arrangements by Collier is a version of Mozart’s overture to Le Nozze di Figaro for an ensemble of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 6 clarinets, 3 bassoons, serpent, 3 horns, 3 trumpets, trombone, and timpani.  This set of manuscript parts is in an unidentified copyist’s hand:

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Le nozze di Figaro. Overture. Arranged by John Collier. Part for first clarinet

Images of the complete set of parts are available in Beinecke’s Digital Library.

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