Tune of the Day: Colonel Bogey March
This popular march was written in 1914 by Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts, a British military bandmaster. Since at that time service personnel were not encouraged to have professional lives outside the armed forces, Ricketts published “Colonel Bogey” and his other compositions under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford.
Who was Colonel Bogey? The story goes that this was a nickname by which a certain fiery colonel was known just before the 1914 War. One of the composer's recreations was playing golf, and it was on a Scottish course that he sometimes encountered the eccentric colonel. One of the latter's peculiarities was that instead of shouting “Fore” to warn of an impending drive, he preferred to whistle a descending minor third. This little musical tag stayed and germinated in the mind of the receptive Ricketts, and so the opening of this memorable march was born.
In 1957 the march was chosen as the theme tune for the splendid film The Bridge on the River Kwai, and it became so identified with this film that many people now incorrectly refer to the “Colonel Bogey March” as “The River Kwai March”. The problem is that this title actually refers to a completely different march, written for the film by composer Malcolm Arnold!