The Colonel Bogey March is a popular march that was written in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts, a British Army bandmaster who later became the Director of Music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth, my home town.
At that time service personnel were not encouraged to have professional lives outside the armed forces, so Ricketts published Colonel Bogey and his other compositions under the pseudonym Kenneth J Alford.
Supposedly, the tune was inspired by a military man and golfer who whistled a characteristic two-note phrase (a descending minor third interval, instead of shouting ’Fore!’. It is this descending interval that begins each line of the melody. The nameColonel Bogey began in the later 19th century as the imaginary "standard opponent" of the Colonel Bogey scoring system in golf, and by Edwardian times the Colonel had been adopted by the golfing world as the presiding spirit of the course. Edwardian golfers on both sides of the Atlantic often played matches against ’Colonel Bogey’. ’Bogey’ is now a golfing term meaning ’one over par’.
I have kept essentially to Alford’s original, but, just to spice things up a little (hopefully!), I have not only found that the main theme can fit at other places in the piece, but I also couldn’t resist the urge just to give the horn, and trombone something different to play at times - especially the former, which kind of links Alford with his American counterpart, Sousa, just near the end.
Usually, when making multi-arrangements, I have tended to start from a ’Piano Duet’ version. On this occasion, it’s been the other way around!
If you’re a solo pianist, and would just like to play Alford’s original march, then I have included a piano transcription in my PRB Piano Music Series.