The miners’ band today

Then and now. Variety of sounds

The band has participated in all major state, church, and miners’ celebrations. They are always present on Miner’s Day or St. Kinga’s Day, on successive anniversaries of entering the mine onto the UNESCO List. They also march in the Corpus Christi processions, celebrate Poland’s Independence Day, and play at miners’ funerals. The band does about 100 performances in total, on various occasions.

Due to the versatility of the musicians, they are not limited to the pieces composed for a brass orchestra but they also successfully cope with Verdi, Bach, Schubert, and Strauss as well as some movie soundtracks. Even in the Austrian times, the band’s high artistic level had the effect that they received numerous orders to perform in Krakow, Podgorze, and Galicja Wschodnia /East Galicia/. To this day the musicians of the Wieliczka mine perform excellently at festivals and competitions held both home and abroad, i.e. in Buchloe, Augsburg, Fussen, More, Salzburg, Hallein, Halstadt, and Innsbruck, among others.

What it was like in the past – who was who

Kopalnia Soli "Wieliczka"The band members were Polish while the first bandmasters were foreigners. Indeed, some sources mention Feliks Czyzowski as the one who led the miners’ band, however, the first Salinen Kapelmeister who is to be regarded as such was Michal Ahlich. In 1876 the band counted 29 members, in the interwar period there were 40 of them. The 1980s turned out to be unfavourable as merely 17 musicians played there. Nearly 30 years later (2009) there are 44 members in the ranks of the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Brass Band.

The bandmaster selected the repertoire and held the rehearsals, he conducted during major concerts as well. On less important occasions, he was replaced by a drum major (sub-bandmaster). The instruments were acquired in Krakow, Königgätz, and Schönbach. A kind of a ‘music school’ was run by the band where playing the instruments was taught. Apart from the brass band a string band existed. Unfortunately, the Second World War did not spare the string band – only two double basses and a violin survived.

What it was like in the past – where and how much for?

Rehearsals were held in the building of the Paderewski Shaft pithead. Since 1917, the miners’ band polished their repertoire in the top shaft of the Danilowicz Shaft building, to return later to the Paderewski Shaft buildings. During the subsequent years it was moved to the Regis Shaft pithead and to the Gorsko Shaft. Since 2009, the rehearsals of the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Representative Brass Band have been held in the saltworks building adapted especially for this purpose.

The band made its living mostly from the fees for sightseeing of the mine which went to the so-called music fund. In time, artists received support of salt mine officials and miners themselves: to the request of the senior miners Fieldmasters of all 3 saltfields submit to the internal consultation for the 15th week of 1847 where, on behalf of all salt mine workers, they declare readiness to pay voluntary donations for the music fund […] [quoted after I. Markowski – editor’s footnote].

Kopalnia Soli "Wieliczka"The lure of the uniform …

In 1893, the band received new uniforms. The shopping list enumerates miner’s overalls, trousers, plumed caps, hats, and finally a uniform tie. The contemporary brass band is also very presentable and smart in their mining uniforms. The musicians’ caps sport red plumes while the bandmaster wears a white and red one.

Prizes for the band

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Brass Band recorded a few albums, successfully participated in many international and national brass band festivals, e.g. in Germany (Buchloe in 1988, 1990, and 1993). In 2001 they took the 1st place at the 24th Festival in Nowy Sącz, repeating that success the following year. In 2006 the miners’ band played at the 16th International Military Band Festival while in 2010, it received the Golden Diploma of the 7th International Brass Bands Festival in Hungary.






Major artistic achievements

  • 1st place at 24th Echo Trombity Brass Bands Festival, Nowy Sacz 2001
  • 1st place at 25th Echo Trombity Brass Badns Festival Nowy Sacz 2002
  • 1st place at the International Miners Brass Bands Competition, Ferropolis 2006
  • Golden Diploma at 8th International Brass Bands Festival in Mór, Hungary 2010
  • Recording 3 CDs

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.
 
Światowe dziedzictwo


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