[Sheet music] Invercargill March

Accession Number RC11061
Collection number Sheet Music Collection 576
Collection type Published Collection
Measurement Overall: 31 cm x 24 cm
Object type Sheet Music
Maker Lithgow, Alexander Frame
Date made c 1909
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Sheet music for the instrumental march, 'Invercargill March', composed by Alexander Frame Lithgow. The piece was originally written in 1901 as a jig for a symphonic band and was rejected by publishers. The piece that became known as 'Invercargill March', was rearranged and tested before being submitted as a test piece for the National Brass Band Contest held at Invercargill, New Zealand, during 1909. The dedication written by Lithgow about this march read: 'To Invercargill, the Southernmost City in New Zealand (End of the World), and its Citizens, I dedicate this March as a memento of the many pleasant years spent there in my boyhood.'

The march went on to break sales records for phonograph recordings. It also became the regimental march for the Hunter River Lancers Regiment. Some accounts regard this march, together with John Sousa's 'Star's and Stripes'; Kenneth Alford's 'Colonel Bogey'; and Johann Strauss' 'Radetzky March', as one of the most popular marches in the world.

This copy of the music features an image of a marching band beside a list of the music publishers, Paling & Co's most famous marches. Two of these were written by Alexander Lithgow. Inside the front and back covers, are included excerpts from four popular marches at the time that this copy of the music was published. The back cover features a list of Paling's march series which are drawn from famous regimental marches. This includes another four of Alexander Lithgow's compositions.

Lithgow was born in Glasgow, Scotland and his family migrated to Invercargill when he was 6 years old. The Lithgow family were all musical and Alexander was recognised as a prodigy, becoming principal cornet with the Invercargill Garrison Band at age 16 and bandmaster at age 20. He was also played as first violin with the Theatre Royal Orchestra. He moved to Tasmania in 1893 and from 1894 to 1906 became conductor of the St Joseph's Band, Launceston. later moved to Tasmania and was bandmaster of the 12th Battalion Band between 1894 and 1910. Lithgow became known as the 'Sousa of the Antipodes' and memorial plaques in his honour are located at the Paterson Barracks and the the rotunda at City Park, Launceston.

Towards the bottom of this page is a sound recording of this sheet music, or a parody, that was created as part of the Music and the First World War project. More information about this recording, including names of the performers, can be found on the catalogue record for the sound recording. A link to the catalogue record for the sound recording can be found at the bottom of this page, under the heading ‘Related objects’ where it can be identified with the prefix [sound recording].

History / Summary

The instrumental march 'Invercargill March' became globally known following the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War. It was performed at the first parade of Gallipoli veterans in London during 1916. One veteran bandsman of this campaign reported that "when the battle-weary Anzac troops were marching back to camp they would often ask the band to play the 'Invercargill March' which, incidentally, the bandsmen knew so well that they did not need to see the music and could therefore play it in the dark." In 1957, S P Newcomb wrote the following for 'The Bandsman', "To these men, 'Invercargill' was more than just a march - it inspired patriotism, built up their morale and above all, was a national tune which they all knew and loved so much."

In Australia, this piece appears to have been popular before and after the war with only a couple of mentions during the First World War period. The first of these appears to have been at the Grand Exhibition Patriotic Concert organised by Professor Hartley and students that was held at Greenvale Hall, near Boree Creek, New South Wales, on 22 September 1915. The march was performed as a piano solo by Miss Myrtle Gane. It was also performed by the Mannum Brass Band, South Australia, during Australia Day celebrations on 27 July 1918, following a procession through the town. The march also made several appearances in advertisements for Edison phonograph records during the war years.