The Prince of Denmark’s March – The Trumpet Voluntary

During the baroque period, several pieces of music were written under the name of Trumpet Voluntary.  Typically a trumpet voluntary is  played on the organ using the trumpet stop, hence the name. Structurally Trumpet voluntaries tend to start off slowly, followed by a faster section which highlights the right hand which plays fanfare-like figures above a simple accompaniment in the left hand. Sometimes the Trumpet stop is replaced by either Cornet or Flute stop. Occasionally echo effects are implemented.

In or around 1700 Jeremiah Clarke composed his most famous work – Prince of Denmark’s March – a tune for the ages that is never far from the ear drums when there is a Royal Wedding or a history of Britain on the BBC. It may initially have been written as a rondo for keyboard as it was not originally called a trumpet voluntary. It remains a very popular piece for weddings and was played at the 1981 wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer.

Sir Henry Wood – he of The Proms – composed a well known arrangement of the piece for trumpet, string orchestra and organ and it was in this version that the original composer was often cited as Henry Purcell though it is now not in doubt to have been the work of Jeremiah Clarke.