The First Foot Guards

We are a Revolutionary War reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards


The Regimental slow march, 'Scipio'

The household regimental Slow Marches are:

The Grenadier Guards: 'Scipio'
That is the music being played as you open this page.
This is a recording from 'Trooping the color' ceremony in Horseguards Parade, London.
Listen, and you'll hear the commands.

Listen to a longer version of Scipio
Takes a while to download!

Coldstream Guards: "Figaro" (Mozart 1764).

The Welsh Guards: "Men of Harlech"

The Irish Guards: "Let Erin Remember"

The Scots Guards: "The Garb of Old Gaul" 
(John Reed 1770).


The household regimental Quick Marches are:

The Grenadier Guards: The British Grenadiers" 

Coldstream Guards: "Milanollo" adopted in 1882

The Welsh Guards: "The rising of the Lark"

The Irish Guards: "St. Patrick's Day" 
(probably first appeared in print in 1749, 
although it is thought to have been known as early as 1615)

The Scots Guards: "Highland Laddie" 
(originally known as "Cockleshells" and written in 1701).




The First Foot Guards "Music"

The Regiment bearing the proud title "First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards" was first raised in Flanders in 1656. The first mention of music in the Regiment is a Royal Warrant issued by King Charles II in 1685, the year of the birth of Handel and Bach, authorizing the maintenance of 12 Hautbois in the King's Regiment of Foot Guards in London. He also instructed that a fictitious name should be borne on the strength of each of the other companies in the country so that these musicians might be granted higher pay! Mr. Handel, (later to become the Master of the King's Musick in 1757), was an admirer of the band and presented the march from "Scipio" to the Regiment in 1726.

The Regiment's music was then gradually expanded by the addition of other instrumentalists; 3 Hautbois were added in 1699 and 2 French Horns in 1725, according to the St James's Evening Post of that time. Keyed Bugle Horns, costing 27 were added in 1772. By 1783 the Band was composed of 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons, but the strength of the Band increased rapidly in the latter part of the 18th Century so that in 1794 it is recorded as comprising: 1 flute; 6 clarinets; 3 bassoons, 3 horns; 1 trumpet; 2 serpents and "Turkish Music" (this being the Negro Time-beaters who played bass drum, cymbals and tambourine).

This slow march is taken from the opera, "The Mercy Of Scipio", written in 1725 by Sir George Frederic Handel. The Iyrics, titled "Toll For The Brave", were written by William Cowper in 1782.


The regimental slow march 'Scipio'

The music

The march is taken from the opera, "The Mercy of Scipio" or 'Scipione' written in 1725 by George Frederic Handel. Since Scipio was a Roman centurion, this piece is played with grandeur.

The poem "Toll For The Brave" written by William Cowper in 1782, was often sung to the march.

Handel transcribed the march from Scipio for harpsichord, a good example of Handel's 'borrowing'. He often recycled tunes that he wrote for one type of composition, using them in another.

Handel was a well traveled German who studied in Italy and made his career in England. His music reflected influences from all of these countries, and he was regarded as the best composer of his time. Handel was an corpulent man well known for his sense of humor. However, he was also a strict music master. He reportedly once held a recalcitrant soprano out a window until she agreed to sing his operas the way he told her to. As the soprano was no featherweight, Handel must have been strong as well as large. At this time, singers were expected to be temperamental, and at one public performance of Handel's works in 1727, two sopranos had a fistfight on-stage despite
the fact the Princess Caroline was in attendance.

Although Handel was painted as a glutton by some, he made many jokes at the expense of public figures and was well loved by the British people for his pious and honorable nature, and was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1759.

While operas were generally performed in theatres at the time, much of the popular music from these works would be performed at the pleasure gardens in London. Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh were magnificent assemblages of pavilions and gardens, where people could escape the noise of the city, and stroll, listen to music, partake of elegant suppers, and generally amuse themselves. The most notable musicians of the day performed in these lovely surroundings, including Handel, the violin virtuoso Felice de Giardini, and singers such as Miss Brent, for whom Thomas Arne wrote many of his songs. The programs included orchestral, organ, chamber, and vocal music. Songs that had been successfully performed with orchestral accompaniment at the pleasure gardens were frequently published the following year in arrangements for voice with a small instrumental ensemble, so that they could be enjoyed by music lovers at home.

The opera

Popular at the time it was composed, many of Handel's operas are not frequently heard (unlike his orchestral music, and his oratorio 'Messiah'). Today the operas can seem a little tedious, and certainly strange, since the sound of the lead male alto is other-worldly. Nowadays we prefer to hear a tenor lead.

The opera in three acts had a libretto by Paolo Antonio Rolli, based on a libretto by
Antonio Salvi and on the histories of Livy. It is sung in Italian.
The first performance took place
at the King's Theatre, London, on 12th March 1726

In the libretto, Scipio (male alto), in triumph, has conquered New Carthage. He is in love with the captive Berenice (soprano) but magnanimously releases her to her beloved Allucius (Lucejo), a Celtiberian Prince, while the Roman commander Laelius is finally united
with his beloved Armira, released now from Roman captivity.

The real Scipio: Scipio Africanus

In the opening campaign of the Second Punic War, Publius Cornelius Scipio was 17 or 18 years old. His father, also named Publius Cornelius Scipio, was elected a Roman consul in 218 BC, and the young Scipio accompanied him in a confrontation with Hannibal's invasion force in Northern Italy shortly after the Carthaginian commander had completed his famous crossing of the Alps.

In the melee that ensued, the elder Scipio became surrounded and was seriously wounded. Perceiving his father's danger, Scipio the younger urged his troops into the thick of the fighting. When they hung back, the boy rode into the enemy cavalry alone, compelling his men to follow. That attack broke the Carthaginian formation, and the elder Scipio later saluted his son before the army as his rescuer.

Scipio began trained his men in tactics he had learned by studying Hannibal's battles in Italy. He experimented with a smaller infantry unit, the cohort, which allowed greater flexibility of maneuver than the legion. In addition, Scipio armed his men with short Spanish swords (the gladius hispaniensis), replacing the unwieldy weapons used in the past. He continued to great victories in Spain and North Africa against Hannibal, always using innovative tactics and methods.

Before a battle with Hannibal, Hannibal sent three spies to obtain information. The three were captured, but instead of putting them to death, as was customary, Scipio appointed a tribune to take all three men on an inspection tour of the camp. Scipio's unusually generous treatment of his spies so impressed Hannibal that he arranged to meet the young Roman commander a few days later, alone except for two interpreters. Their parley was cordial, but they failed to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

Following his triumph against Hannibal in Africa, Scipio presented the Senate with 123,000 pounds of silver. In return, he became the first Roman general to be honorarily bestowed with
the name of the land he conquered: Scipio Africanus.

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