New Meanings

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They might be favourites of the classical repertoire, but they have assumed new meanings through connection to modern warfare, particularly through their use in film.

Chopin: Nocturne No. 20

A piece associated with “The Pianist” Wladyslaw Szpilman, who plays it here.

Film trailer for The Pianist

Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata has a strong connection to kamikaze through its position novel/film Summer of the Moonlight Sonata, in which two pilots play the sonata before flying their mission. Here is a telling of the story that combines piano performance and poetry reading.

Summer of the Moonlight Sonata: poetry reading and piano concert version

The piano is kept in the Sanmesse Hall in Tosu and is sometimes used for peace concerts. Here is what it sounds like.

The piano that inspired the film Summer of the Moonlight Sonata.

Pianos as instruments have also become important conveyers of war memories in Hiroshima (see Hibaku Pianos).

Barber: Adagio for Strings

Barber’s haunting Adagio became strongly associated with the Vietnam War when it was used in the soundtrack for Platoon. This performance is part of a fundraiser concert for Ukraine … along with imagery from the early stages of the conflict.

Adagio for Strings

Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries

Another piece associated with the Vietnam war via this iconic sequence from Apocalypse Now.

Ride of the Valkyries from Apocalypse Now.

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