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Carl Teike

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Carl Teike


Carl Albert Hermann Teike (5 February 1864, Altdamm, Germany - 22 May 1922, Landberg/Warthe, Germany) was a German composer, primarily of military marches.

Carl Teike was the son of a blacksmith, the fourth of 14 children. The family soon moved to neart’ Zullchow where the children attended school, enjoyed a pleasant home life, and occasionally heard concerts presented in Stettin by several of the excellent Prussian military bands stationed there. At the age of 14 Carl Teike began five years of music study in Wollin with Paul Böttcher, a capable teacher and bandmaster. He was soon playing French horn in Bottcher’s resort orchestra at nearby Bad Misdroy; he also learned to play string bass, percussion, and several other wind instruments.

In 1883, Teike journeyed to the south German city of Ul, and joined the 123rd King Karl Regiment Band as a French horn playing hoboist, a term meaning military musician that time. He supplemented his pay by playing horn and percussion in the Ulm City Theater Orchestra during his off-duty time. With the extra income he was able to continue to study privately and to also rent a small room where he could compose without interruption. Teike’s first march, Am Donaustrand (On the Banks of the Danube) gave the young composer considerable recognition and encouraged him to write many other marches. His biggest disappointment was his military bandmaster’s lack of appreciation for the work which he hoped would be brought to the attention of the emperor, his Old Comrades March. Teike was a 25-year-old military bandsman when he composed a new march and asked his conductor if it could be performed. After the first reading the parts were collected, and the bandmaster indifferently advised Teike to “throw the manuscript into the fire.” Nearly a century later that same march, now known as Alte Kameraden—Old Comrades, outpolled every march ever written by a European composer in an international survey of the world’s most popular marches.

Shortly after this bitter experience, Teike resigned from the army, became a city policeman in Ulm, and married his landlord’s daughter, Babette Loser. In 1895 the couple moved to the courtly city of Potsdam where Teike joined the police force and continued to compose one march after the other. A tall slim man, sometimes called The Musical Policeman, he remained a modest and quiet person in spite of his increasing fame. In addition to his police work and composing, he enjoyed playing billiards, fishing, and taking long walks in the nearby woods. In 1909, Teike moved with his wife and five-year-old daughter, Elsa, from Potsdam to Landsberg an der Warthe (now in Poland). He took a position with the postal department there and also had several of his marches published by a local composer-publisher, Herman Silwedel. When World War I broke out, he was 50 years of age and was thus exempted from military service. Teike continued to work and to compose until two months before his death from influenza at the age of 58.

In addition to composing over 100 marches, Teike wrote at least twenty concert works, consisting of waltzes (for example, Nur em Versuch—Only a Try), polkas, mazurkas, and rhinelanders. A number of his outstanding marches are still extremely popular. Teike was very liberal with his music, selling some pieces to publishers for 30 to 50 marks (one mark equalled 24 cents) and giving others to friends and influential people.

Works for Winds


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 584-585.