Warsaw has a bugle call, too

Like Krakow, Warsaw’s Royal Castle has its own bugle call, played from the castle tower every day at 11.15 a.m. But why at this hour?

Report by Eliza Mickiewicz

Built at the turn of the 16th century, the Royal Castle in Warsaw is one of the most important monuments of Polish history and culture. In the 18th century it served as the seat of both chambers of the Polish parliament.

It was in the Castle that during the anti-Tsarist Uprising of 1830 the Polish Parliament removed Tsar of Russia from the Polish throne. After Poland regained her independence in 1918, the country’s president had his offices there. On 17 September 1939, in the bombing by German planes, the clock on the Castle Tower stopped at 11.15 am. A bugle call is now played from the tower every day at this hour.

The tune is by the well-known Polish composer Zbigniew Bagiński. Now in his late fifties, he is a professor at the Warsaw Music Academy.

‘The bugle call is an arrangement of the motif of The Varsovienne, a song written by the Polish composer Karol Kurpiński in 1830 under the impression of the outbreak of the anti-Tsarist November Uprising. My task was to compose a bugle call which, of necessity, should be brief and ear-catching’.

The bugle call is played three times, with the trumpeter facing three directions. Danuta Łuniewicz-Koper from the Royal Castle museum explains.

‘This is a reference to ‘God, Honour, Homeland’- the motto of those who fought for Polish independence down the centuries. The composer wanted his tune to be a tribute to all these people’.

The Warsaw Castle bugle call is unlikely to become as popular as the famous Krakow bugle call. It is interesting though that a growing number of towns in Poland want to have their own bugle calls and announce competitions for composers. Let’s hope that at least some of them will become an inseparable part of the local tradition.

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