Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
January 22, 1871 – January 4, 1942
Click Here for PDF of full lesson: Parade of Wooden Soldiers- Lesson Plan
Link includes: Strategies, Assessments, and information on Composer, Style, and Composition
- Students will study and respond to march form.
- Students will study how Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jewish people affected Jessel and his music.
- Students will identify ABA form in instrumental music.
- Full orchestra
- Large Form– March
- Small Form– ABA
- WMEA Wisconsin Music Standards/ National Music Standards
- Create- 1.1a,b, 2.1a,b
- Perform- 4.1a, 5.1a
- Respond- 7.1a
- Connect- 10.1.b,c- WI, 11.c-WI
- The Parade of the Tin Soldiers (Die Parade der Zinnsoldaten), also known as The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, is an instrumental musical character piece, a march, written in 1897 by German composer Leon Jessel.
- The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was originally composed for solo piano. Jessel published it for orchestra in 1905, as Opus 123.
- Recordings of the The Parade of the Tin Soldiers were made in late 1910 and in 1911 and distributed internationally, and Jessel republished the sheet music internationally as well in 1911.
- In 1912, John Philip Sousa and his band played it at a concert in New York City.
- In 1922, the instrumental version of The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was a hit single performed by Carl Fenton’s Orchestra. Hit versions were also recorded by the Vincent Lopez Orchestra in 1922 and by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra in 1923.
- A Betty Boop cartoon, named “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”, was created with the music in 1933. Also in 1933, The Rockettes began annually performing their own choreographed version of the piece in their Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
- The melody was also used in the Disney cartoon “Polar Trappers” (1938) to accompany a scene in which penguins march behind Donald Duck as he tries to lure them to a trap.
- Today it is also a popular composition for bands and orchestras.
- Since the early 1920s, this composition has been very popular in the U.S.
- Various videos to show students:
- Lyrics created by Ballard MacDonald for the melody :
“The toy shop door is locked up tight
And everything is quiet for the night
The clock strikes twelve
The fun’s begun
The dolls are in their best arrayed
There’s going to be a wonderful parade
Hark to the drum
Oh, here they come
Hear them all cheering
Now they are nearing
There’s the captain stiff as starch
Music is crashing
As the wooden soldiers march
At each little pretty maid
Here they come, here they come
Here they come, here they come
Wooden soldiers on parade.”
- Leon Jessel was a German composer of operettas and light classical music music.
- He was a prolific composer who wrote hundreds of light orchestral pieces, piano pieces, songs, waltzes, mazurkas, marches, choruses, and other salon music. He achieved fame with a number of his operettas,especially Schwarzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl), which remains popular to this day.
- Jessel was born in Stettin, East Germany. He was the son of a Jewish merchant (Samuel Jessel) and his American wife, Mary.
- Jessel was a Jew by birth but chose to convert to Christianity at the age of 23 – a requirement to marry Clara Louise Grunewald.
- After studying with various teachers between 1888 and 1891, Jessel became a conductor, music director, chorus master, bandmaster, and theater conductor working in many German cities. He finally settled in Lübeck, where he was Kapellmeister at the Wilhelm Theater from 1899 to 1905 and director of the Lübeck Liedertafel (men’s singing group) association. While in Lübeck, Jessel composed numerous choral works, operettas, and character pieces.
- In 1911 Jessel moved to Berlin, where he became famous.
- In 1915 Jessel co-founded and co-launched the early GEMA, a German performance rights organization.
- Jessel’s biggest success was the operetta Schwarzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl), which premiered in August 1917. The opera ran in Berlin for 900 performances, and within the next 10 years was performed approximately 6,000 times in Germany and abroad. Black Forest Girl has been recorded numerous times over many decades, and has been filmed and televised numerous times as well
- Jessel’s operettas were popular and very German. Black Forest Girl was a favorite of Hitler and Himmler. Because of this, and because of his own conservative nationalistic ideology, and because his second wife Anna joined the Nazi party in 1932, Jessel expected acceptance in Germany even during and after the Nazi rise to power. Instead, he was rejected by Nazi leadership because of his Jewish descent, even though he had converted to Christianity in 1894.
- Performances of his works were banned in 1933.
- In 1937 he was forced out of the the State Music Institute. Public performances, recordings and distribution of his works were prohibited.
- On December 15, 1941 Jessel was arrested and delivered to the Gestapo in Berlin. He was tortured by the Gestapo in a basement of the Police Bureau at Alexanderplatz. He subsequently died on January 4, 1942 in the Berlin Jewish Hospital.
- Before World War II ended, the Germans had killed about 6 million men, women and children of the approximately 10 million Jews in all of Europe.
- Jessel Timeline:
1871: Leon Jessel was born on Jan. 22, 1871 in Stettin, Germany (now E. Germany)
1884: Converted from Judaism to Christianity.
1888: Began his career as an orchestra and band conductor.
1897: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” sold as a piano solo.
1911: Moved to Berlin, Germany.
1917: Premier of “Black Forest Girl,” his most popular operetta.
1937: His recordings were pulled from stores and the sale of his music was banned by Hitler.
1941: December 15th, he was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo.
1942: January 4th, he died in Berlin Jewish Hospital from injuries sustained from the torturing.