Somewhere deep within human genes it is engraved that, when the existential pressure exerted upon human being reaches its climax then something within him resists and invoke all that is need for survival. And the soul is what has to survive…
This legend carries with itself the very essence of what a great nationalist Tomáš Hromada did, when in 1838 in the period of strong Hungarian influence established a brass band music tradition in Upper Hron Region. He established a very solid foundation on which the oldest brass band is built. The flowing waters of Hron and the dense wood surrounding Podbrezová have witnessed many generations, good and bad eras, wars and peace, troubles and relieves vanished. During those turbulent times Brass band Podbrezová performed, survived and helped to survive. This is the main feature of people from Upper Hron Region. If they accept something they will adhere to it.
We should be grateful to our ancestors, who were able to preserve the beauty and delight, which arises from music. They dedicated to us the responsibility to carry out their mission and to use music as medium to make people happy. During the brass-band history many conductors followed one another and generations of musician have played there. Each and every of them have sacrificed themselves for the sake of the orchestra and as a reward they got beautiful lifelong memories. Among those, who played in the brass band many remarkable personalities could be found. We can mention soloists such as: Ms. Hanus, Mr. Chalupek, Mr. Kertesz, Mr. Sikula, Mr. Luptak etc. In the same period the concert life of the ensemble was revived by two conductors Ludovít Adamčík (1951-1964) and Alojz Šikula (1964-1972), who devoted their time to education of the young people. Many of contemporary musicians went through their training and remember them. After the conductor Alfred Sebesta (1972-1980) followed Imrich Gazovič (1980-1983). When he left the brass band in 1983 his position took Peter Zaoral (1983-1997), 37 years old ambitious musician, who played at stationary band in Banská Bystrica at that time.

He combined his experience of being the professional musician with his creativity in music. Under his leadership the brass band continually developed aesthetically and also in the field of interpretation and orchestral discipline. In 1997 the conductor Peter Zaoral and two musicians Alojz Dürer and R. Radakovič had fatal car accident on their way to brass band performance. From 1997 till 2002 the brass band was conducted by Pavel Šianský. Afterwards, from September 2002 till September 2003 the brass band conducted Pavol Machajdík. At present the bandmaster is Jozef Kráľ, the former main conductor of the Garrison Music Band of Banská Bystrica town and the chief inspector of military music bands of the SR Army. Under his baton since 2003 when he has taken over the leadership, the orchestra has got younger and reached a lot of significant achievements at domesic and foreign competitions and festivals.

Talented children were recruited. Fathers brought their sons. Nowadays, the orchestra consists of 44 members. Most of them are the company employees. Welders, locksmiths, constructor and clerks. They all play together. The orchestra was revived by coming of new cheerful members – pupils from elementary schools and students of high schools. The fact that the professions of orchestra members differ a lot brings the problems familiar to every amateur band. They cope with rehearsals and performance attendance problems. It is commendable that the brass band members are trying hard not miss the performances.

The hard work in the brass band was fruitful. From 1984 on, the brass band has been counted among the best in regional competitions. The brass band eagerness to create and play is also reflected in four records for Slovak Radio. The brass band also played in two TV movies - "Druhý dych" and "Zastavený čas", which were made by Slovak Television and directed by Tomáš Hucek. The brass band left good impression on audience in regional competitions in Lucenec, Handlová, Turcianske Teplice and Bojnice. It has always something to surprise either its style, or some novelty in the repertoire. Its participation in Bratislava Brass band Days in 1995 was a landmark in brass band history and indicated that the ensemble intents to cross regional borders. Last years are marked by collaboration with Majorettes and Dance Group KOVO Podbrezová. Their collaboration was very fruitful and successful esp. when performing at spas and important cultural events. One of the brass band important successes was its performance in nation-wide competition Pádivý’s Trenčín

The orchestra activities crossed the regional borders. The improvement of music, especially in the last decade drew the attention of state bodies. Because of significant role, which the brass band from Podbrezová played in cultural field it was awarded prestigious prize - KAROL PÁDIVÝ PRICE for 1992.

From the very beginning the orchestra was closely connected to Podbrezová Ironworks. . What may have caused such a strange relationship of hard metalwork and tender music? The music has become the part of the plant and they can be no more separated. The plant, which was established in 1840, has gone far in its development. It is typical that the plant was always at high technical level. METALWORKS Podbrezová used to be state-of-the art plant in the whole Austro-Hungary at that time. Nowadays, the cycle of modern technological aggregates was completed by the completion of building of a new electrical arc furnace. And the plant has become one of the best European Ironworks (compared to similar-size plants). The plant has obtained several quality certificates. It produces steel, seamless and welded tubes, which are later exported to Europe and other countries. The plant is a dominant subject, which in combination with Trade Union KOVO creates financial background for the appropriate brass band functioning. Thanks to the owners and officers of the joint-stock company and trade unions alike, the ensemble can still carry its message and continue its existence.

Together with plant improvement, which is now tube producer of European caliber, the brass band also reached proficiency and intents to play abroad. Dream became reality, when in June 1993 the orchestra attended the Austrian Brass Band Festival in Vienna. Besides its individual performance in Praterstern and recording for Austrian Television the orchestra played at common concert in front of the town hall in Vienna together with more than 2000 musicians. According to expert’s opinion and documentary film of Austrian Television the performance of Brass band Podbrezová in Vienna was more than successful. The invaluable experience which were acquired abroad, the orchestra immediately applied back home. And its repertoire was enriched by several Austrian songs. The brass band entered the international music world by attending the International Festival in Zlín 1994 – Czech Republic followed by performance in Totkomlos, Hungary in 1994. In 1995 the ensemble participated in international festival in Southern Tirol town STERZING near Brenner’s Gap. In 1997 the brass band attended the Polish town JASTRZEBIE-ZDROJ. The brassard’s greatest success was achieved in this Polish town JASTRZEBIE-ZDROJ in 5th – 8th September 1997. Out of 33 ensembles from 11 European countries the brass band gained the 2nd rank in the category of big brass bands. Also the conductor Pavol Siansky won second prize in Band Conductors category. The year 1998 was marked by many successful public performances. The brass band won the regional competition in Valaská and attended 7th annual of Tatras Regional Brass Band Festival SVIT-TATRY 1998. They also played at world event IGEB98. In 1998 Podbrezová Ironworks Brass Band won a “gold medal” at 21st annual International Festival Padivý´s Trenčín, which is the greatest success of the orchestra at home. In 4th – 6th June 1999 the brass band played at International Austrian Brass band Festival in Vienna - 20. Osterreichisches blasmusikfest. In 3rd – 5th September 1999 the orchestra played repeatedly at International Festival EURO-Musiktage BOSEL in Germany. On 7th – 10th September 2001 the orchestra repeatedly attended International Festival EURO-Musiktage BOSEL in Germany. Having had attended several Slovak contests, in June 2003 the band traveled to Poland to play at the International Festival held on the town Swiecie; they successfully performed together with Podbrezová Majorettes and this way represented the Slovak Republic..

The atmosphere together with professional attitude of its members guarantees the interest of brass band supporters. Many of professional relationships have become hearty friendships. This is the case of adapter and composer Miloslav Hlavácek. Intimate knowledge of the orchestra enables him to “tailor” the music in a way, which ultimately exploits technical and artistic capacities of the orchestra. Supporters like him are true blessing for the orchestra. Mr. Adam Hudec dedicated music “Podbrezovská polka”, which immediately became one of its favorite pieces. The brass band listeners like it very much. Major Jozef Král – the leader of stationary band in Banská Bystrica supported the brass band not only morally, but also by his personal presence in the orchestra. By joining the Slovak Brass band Association the orchestra gained special status within the cultural framework of Slovakia.

The orchestra would like to express its thanks to all its supporters and fellows, who by attending its performances create very beautiful atmosphere, which makes the mutual exchange of music charm possible. The present generation of musicians of 174 years old Brass band Podbrezová is committed to carry the message of Upper Hron Region brass band music for our next generations.


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