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The origin of the Band, which today is the biggest professional wind orchestra in Denmark, can be traced far back in the history of The Royal Guards.

The Royal Guards Regiment was raised by King Frederik III in 1658. In those days the military music only consisted of flutes and drums. In the reign of Christian V (1670 - 99) the first 6 shawm players were employed by the Guards, and hereby the first melodious instrument was introduced in the Danish military music.

In the beginning of the 18th century a number of Royal "oboists" (wind players) were employed; their Instruments comprised oboe, trumpet, bassoon, and French horn. These "oboists", who were competent and well reputed, often played together with 'The Royal Corps of Trumpeters and the later Royal Orchestra.

At the end of the century, the "Turkish" or "Janizary" music, i.e. the percussionist music, was introduced, and the Guards Band was increased with a number of percussion instruments. However, there was no ensemble playing between the wind players and the percussionists in those day as the latter improvised their music without using notes. Proper wind music does not appear until the beginning of the 19th century, and from 1867 the Guards Band of 28 men is the only military wind orchestra in Denmark, Today, the Band of The Royal Guards consists of 36 musicians with either an education from the Royal Danish Academy of Music or other musical studies as their basis. The garrison of the Band is the Guards Barracks at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Through the introduction of shawm players and oboists later on, it became possible for the bands men of the Guards to provide musical performance at the royal banquets at which the oboists often played together with the Royal Trumpeters and the Royal Violinists. In the reign of Christian VII (1766-1808) the Guards Band often played at the Royal table, although they did not play together, as the wind players were usually placed in the banquet room while the percussionists had to stay outside in the yard! The musicians received "rewards" for their playing, and when the Band was playing in the gardens of Frederiksberg Palace close to the west of Copenhagen, the Court made sure that each man was provided with a pint of red wine and a loaf of leavened bread.

At present the majority of the royal banquets hosted by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II take place in the Dome Hall of Fredensborg Palace in North Zealand. Additionally, the Guards Band play at Royal banquets and other events at Amalienborg Palace and Christiansborg Palace, both in Copenhagen, and Marselisborg Palace in Århus, Jutland.

The table music includes everything from classical music to more modern, light music, and the programme is selected by the Director of Music and the programme committee. Then the proposal is submitted to Her Majesty the Queen who will discuss it with His Royal Highness the Prince after which the programme is either accepted or alterations suggested.


The first and most distinguished function of The Royal Guards is to guard the Sovereign and the Royal palaces, and the Guards Band today as before has a number of regular tasks in connection with the guard duty. The Guards Parade of today is carried out almost exactly as it has been for generations. In a normal Guards Parade from the Guards Barracks to Amalienborg Palace, the Guard is accompanied by the Music which includes the Band as well as the Corps of Drums, They play by turns on the route. This duty is undoubtedly the most popular performance by the Band besides the actual Changing of the Guards in the square of Amalienborg Palace with the Band playing 3 or 4 pieces of music. This traditional event is observed by an international audience, including Danes as well as tourists from all over the world.

Text from the cover notes of the CD set of
"Taffelmusik ved det Danske Hof" (EMI - CD7545562)
Tracks on
CD1 and CD2

Written by
Major Jesper Gram-Andersen

Curator of
"Livgardens Historiske Samling"
(The Guards Historic Collection)

Translated into English by
Knud Gram-Andersen


Last update 9 Jan. 2000