History of the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Brass Band

For the Emperor, for the eminent guests.

In the second half of the 18th century the Austrians started preparing a regular tourist route. Undoubtedly, the unique features of the historic undergrounds contributed to the birth of the miners’ band. The ‘salt-mine music’ made sightseeing even more attractive. The band accompanied the tourists who went deep down and also when they had bought the most expensive option of sightseeing, i.e. at the 1st or 2nd class of lighting. The band played in the Michalowice, Saurau, Dworzec Goluchowskiego, Jozef Pilsudski and Letow chambers. It was indispensable when the saline works hosted gracious rulers.  In 1851 the mine was visited by the Emperor Franz Josef I. To honour him, the Michalowice Chamber resounded with Volkshymne and Radetzky March.

Under the vast sky

Kopalnia Soli "Wieliczka"Every week, the brass band would give concerts in the bower in Park Elzbiety (Elisabeth’s Park) [presently St. Kinga’s Park – editor’s footnote]. In 1843, Feliks Boczkowski wrote: Social meetings and house sessions between bathers and local officials are held here. In case of greater numbers of bathers, the local hotel holds balls. Walks to the music of the miners’ band taken in the public garden, known as Brentowka, are most frequent [presently A. Mickiewicz’s Park – editor’s footnote]. During the Nazi occupation, the musicians of the mine’s band could be heard in the courtyard of the Saltworks Castle and after 1945 even in Wieliczka’s Planty.

Ladies and gentlemen, dance the mazurek!

In the past the Tourist Route included the impressive Letow Chamber which was used as a ball room. Aleksander Kisielewski wrote in 1869: On that same storey a room called the Letow room was located, its floor and walls are lined with wooden panels, benches for the convenience of tired travelers stand around as well as galleries for muisicians. We found the room brilliantly illuminated and a beautiful picture twinkling with light and the music started to play a lively mazurek. Soon many pairs formed […]. The music consisting of brass instruments, so much thunderous by itself, was reflected with a thousand of sounds by the underground vaults. In sooth, I have never heard such sounds before! Also the Wedrowiec /Vagrant/ weekly remembered at the end of the 19th century the lively salt-mine band. At present the band musicians display their great skills, among other occasions, at concerts for tourists in the Warszawa Chamber.



Website bibliography

  1. Boczkowski F., O Wieliczce pod względem historyi naturalnej, dziejów i kąpieli (On Wieliczka as Regards Natural History, History, and Baths), Bochnia 1843, reprint: Warszawa 1987.
  2. Kisielewski A., Z Krakowa do Gdańska Wisłą. Wspomnienia z podróży z kilkunastoma doborowymi drzeworytami (From Krakow to Gdansk by the Vistula. Memoirs of a Voyage with a Dozen or More Quality Woodcuts), Lwów 1869.
  3. Markowski I., Wielicka orkiestra salinarna (The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Band), in: Studia i materiały do dziejów żup solnych w Polsce (Research and Materials Regarding the History of Saltworks in Poland), Wieliczka 2001, t. XXI.
  4. Wedrowiec. Illustrated weekly, Warszawa 1896, no. 2.
 
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