Balkan Brass music evolved during the first Serbian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, where the trumpet played a key role in rallying troops and kept soldier’s entertained during their down-time. Military bands adapted string-based folk music to brass instruments and drums. While over the several hundred years of Ottoman occupation, Turkish Mehter music left its mark on the region. However, it wasn’t until 1831 after the 2nd serbian rebellion against the Ottomans, did Prince Prince Miloš Obrenović order the formation of the first brass bands to solidify a Serbian national identity.

Brass music persists as a central part of culture in the Balkan peninsula. Once a year for five days, hundreds of thousands of people come to the tiny town of Guča, Serbia to hear the brass bands of the Balkan peninsula battle it out for the various championship titles. The battles often involve long-standing rivalries where the winners gain not only money and international contacts but also regional or ethnic bragging rights. While the festival is central to Balkan brass music, it can be heard year round at major community events such as births, weddings, military inaugurations, harvest celebrations, and funerals.