Carl Albert Hermann Teike

A German March Composer of World Renown (By Werner Probst)

On 5th February 1864 in Potsdam a boy, who was to contribute immensely to the call of spreading German marches around the world, saw the light of the world in Altdam. He was Carl, the 4th child of the blacksmith family Teike, and he grew up in what we might today call poor circumstances.

He seemed to inherit his musical talent from his mother as she was well known for having a lovely voice. Shortly after his birth his parents were drawn to Züllchow where there were good work prospects for his father in the shipyard.

The young Carl made contact with the military band in the garrison town of Stettin, where the Musical Director Hennion developed an interest in him and had such an effect on him that it remained with him throughout his life.The musically gifted boy consequently took up a musical apprenticeship with Paul Böttcher, the conductor of the Wollin City Orchestra. Carl, in common with the times, learned from his teacher the ability to play woodwind, strings and percussion, his favourite being the French horn..

Such was his progress after only two years, that Böttcher took him as a player and soloist to Bad Misdray, where Böttcher had been a successful conductor of the town band for over 25 years.

After his five year apprenticeship Carl Teike went to Ulm as a voluntary traveller on a three year stint, and on Ist October 1883 started his military service with King Karl (the 5th of Würtemburg) Grenadier Regiment No.123.

Soon after, the talented and experienced musician found himself with the rewarding sideline of horn player in the Ulm Theatre. This was not a rare event at the time, for the local musician made appearances in the opera and theatre orchestras in 45 German towns.

Also privately, he tried to build on his musical career by studying, with the long term target of becoming a military conductor. In his efforts he received full support from his artistically minded company commander Herr Rampacher, and his musical director Julius Schreck.

Soon a special talent became obvious, for Carl Teike turned to composing, and in 1885, wrote his first march which he appropriately called Am Donaustrand (On the Banks of the Danube).

By now he had played with every musical group and band in the garrison of Ulm.

Carl Teike's horizons developed steadily on many tours which he made with the military band - and which also led him to Holland. His time in Ulm was for himself a very happy one, for in Spring he fell in love with Babette Höser whom he married two years later on 23 November 1889.

Unfortunately his ambition of becoming a military band conductor came to an unhappy end, for Schreck's successor resented his gifted musician, and instead of unlimited support, there were harassments. He was to advise Teike to "throw in the fire" an unnamed march which later was to triumph all over the world. The march was "Old Comrades".

Carl Teike left military service at the end of 1889, and after a short stay in Ravensburg, he joined the Ulm Police.

Probably it was his North German upbringing. Perhaps too, it was the many happy memories of his time as a musician which led him to leave Ulm and be attracted by a successful application to Potsdam in May 1895, where on 1st September 1895 he started his service with the Royal Bodyguard. The position also had pension rights, should he ever be unfit for work.

The old military town was for composer Teike a fruitful base because the military band based there was rated as the best in the old army and provided him with stimulus in abundance. It is not at all surprising that he composed a string of his best marches while in Potsdam, e.g. "Steadfast and True" which undoubtedly rated alongside his famous "Old Comrades".

Teike's composing is all the more surprising that, since his career offer in Potsdam, he was no longer employed in music.

That Potsdam had such meaning for Teike can be gauged from March titles such as Prinz Albrecht (Prince Albert). Prinz Wilhelm (Prince William), Für Thron und Reich (For Throne and Empire - today The Hohenstaufen March), Kaiser Parole (Emperor Password), Kronprinzen-Marsch (Crown Prince March), Observier-Marsch (Observer March).

However it was not only life in the Prussian royal town that inspired him; he was also open to the development of his age and was very interested in sport and in the technical innovations of the time. Marches like Ein Hoch dem Sport (Three Cheers for Sport), Großer Sport Marsch (Great Sports March) or Ein Hoch der Aviatik (Three cheers for Aviation) showed he had interests outside music.

With time the well built bodyguard also performed at the historical "Petition Tree" and became so well known that there were even reports abroad about the musical bodyguard - like the Belgian newspaper "Le Petit Bleu du Matin". Teike, who meanwhile had become a proud father, busied himself not only with marches but tried dances, and produced his first waltz in 1906 with the hint in the title "Only an Attempt". He was to compose twenty dances for his wife Babette - mazurkas, polkas and "Rhine People" - which he bound in an album and dedicated to her. Unfortunately he did not expand this part of his work, for his waltzes suggested musically more than a mere attempt, and the album did not survive the years – having been loaned to a friend and never returned.

During his nightshift in the hard winter of 1907 Teike caught a serious bought of pneumonia, which changed his life. Recovery was slow and he had a spell in a pneumonia clinic from which he returned the following summer feeling better. He returned to Potsdam but could only carry out his work up to a point. It is very surprising today that the police turned down his request for a similar post with no nightshift and strongly suggested he retired. Through the mediation of the Crown Prince however, he finally found a very junior position in the Warthe Council in Landsberg.

Teike's nephew wrote about the end of his spell in Potsdam: All of Potsdam regrets that their "Teike" had to leave the town and no authority in all Potsdam made the slightest attempt to keep him.

On 1st February 1909 he finally moved with his family to the prosperous provincial town of Warthegan. There he found in Count Clarion of Haussonville a most understanding and forward looking man, and he settled in his new surroundings, which were to bring him enough musical variety and new friendships. Also his energy for musical work had not extinguished, because he wrote a string of rousing marches in those years.

Perhaps the best example, considering the communication methods of the time was a large photo he received from the New York Police Band as thanks for his fine marches. Teike returned the compliment by writing the march The Blue Police.

The first world war meant a break in Teike's life, although he did not have to go to war because of his age. His popularity meant that he made many appearances as guest conductor at charity concerts with the brass band in Landsberg, Stettin and other places, and this helped him to survive the bad times.

From the outset his true longing showed in the titles of his marches; they now have names like Friedensfeier, (Peace Celebration), Neue Zeiten (Modern Times) or Wieder Daheim (Home Again), and from accounts a Siegenfestmarsch (Victory Celebration March) became simply Festmarsch (Celebration March).

The consequences of 1907 was that his illness was obviously more serious than Teike wanted to admit. 1922 brought a noted deterioration in his health which prevented him from taking up a great offer in France - to write some marches for the French army.

Death released him from his sufferings in May, and the following obituary appeared in the local paper:

On the 28th of this month after a long illness the District Assistant Carl Teike passed away. The deceased carried out his tasks with great zeal. He was outstandingly loyal and conscientious and his German-to-the-core nature earned him much love and devotion. The loyal colleague will stay in our memories for ever.

Count Clairon d'Haussonville

Chairman of Council