One of several military bands maintained by Norway's armed forces, the Royal Norwegian Navy Band continues to play a visible role at ceremonies and parades. The group has also enjoyed a successful recording career dating back to the late 1990s, issuing albums of classical wind band music, popular songs, marches, and more.
Drummers were employed at Norwegian fortresses as early as 1627, and by 1767 all infantry regiments were required to travel with six horn blowers. The Royal Norwegian Navy Band was founded in 1820. After World War II, as military bands gained general popularity, the music division of the Norwegian armed forces grew in popularity, and the Navy Band became more widely publicized. The band consists of 29 professional musicians, based in the town of Horten, south of Oslo. It plays roughly 150 concerts a year, for both military and civilian audiences. The Navy Band won the Norwegian national music award Spellemannsprisen in 2003.
The Navy Band is now one of Norway's leading wind bands. The band's recording career began in 1999 with the album Crossover, not so much a crossover-genre album as a collection of contemporary Scandinavian wind band pieces. Its 2002 follow-up, In the Navy, however, included a version of that Village People hit, as well as several other military-themed pop songs, and since then the group has mixed classical and popular genres with unusual ease. It has recorded for the SRC label (issuing an album of Holst's complete music for military band there in 2007), for Naxos (where it recorded several albums of Sousa marches), for MPR (a set of wind band concertos by Rimsky-Korsakov, Gliere, Lebedev, and Arutiunian), and for the innovative Norwegian audiophile label 2L. In 2018, the Royal Norwegian Navy Band launched a new cycle of Percy Grainger's music for wind band on Naxos.