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Leon Jessel

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Leon Jessel


Leon Jessel (22 January 1871, Stettin, Germany - 4 January 1942, Berlin) was a German compser. He is remembered more for his Parade of the “Wooden” Soldiers than for his numerous operettas.

He was born in 1871 in Stettin, a city which at that time was the capital of the German province of Pomerania but, since 1945, has been known as Sczcecin, Poland. Jessel began his formal study of music with various teachers in 1888; by 1891 he was conducting in Gelsenkirchen and Mütheim. His primary interest was musical drama, and his first one-act work was produced at the summer theater in Celle in 1894. Subsequent directing positions were obtained in operetta theaters in Freiberg (near Dresden, 1894), Paderborn (1895), Stettin (1896), Chemnitz (1897-1900), and Neustrelitz. He reportedly conducted operettas in Bielefeld and Kiel also during this period before settling in Lubeck for several years to compose popular short pieces. He published many of his own works while living in that city. In 1911 he moved to Berlin to concentrate on the composition of operettas.

Leon Jessel composed a large number of works (his opus numbers extend past 190), including songs, salon pieces, polkas, waltzes, gavottes, choir music, characteristics (pieces described by their title), marches, and operettas. His Amoretten Gavotte was published for at least 12 different instrumental combinations, including small orchestra. Although several of his early marches have patriotic or military titles, their style is more operatic than martial—more like those of Paul Lincke and Max Oscheit than those of Hermann Blankenburg and Franz von Blon, for example. Works recorded by the U.S. Naval Academy Band and the Carl Woitschach Band for the Heritage of the March series include Heart and Hand for Fatherland, In Uniform, Merry Sleighing Party, Rosy Dawn, The Parade of the Tin Soldiers, Courageous Riders (from Jessel’s early operetta The Two Hussars, produced in Berlin in 1913), From the Mountains to the Sea and We Win! Other early marches include: My Germany, For King and Fatherland, Military Youth, and As Sand by the Sea. A potpourri from his best-known operetta The Girl in the Black Forest (1917) has been arranged for band. Jessel’s final operetta, The Golden Mill, was produced in 1940, two years before his death.

Works for Winds


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 328.