World War I

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In Japan, classical music and World War I are most associated by the first performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 by German POWs. See Chapter 13 of War as Entertainment and Contents Tourism in Japan.

The Western Front in Europe has inspired various pieces that epitomize fundamental functions/emotions that can be channeled into war-related music.

Music Composed During the War

Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 is one of the best known “wartime symphonies”.

Nielsen: Symphony No. 4

Exorcising the Nightmare

Arthur Bliss served in the trenches during the First World War and in Morning Heroes he worked through his experiences.

Bliss: Morning Heroes

Likewise, Ralph Vaughan Williams served in the trenches as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps. His Symphony No. 3 “A Pastoral Symphony” is a poignant memorial to the dead of World War I.

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3 “A Pastoral Symphony”

The Pity/Horror of War

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem has no equals in this regard.

Britten: War Requiem.

Honoring the Dead

Maurice Ravel’s piano suite Le Tombeau de Couperin commemorates seven fallen friends in World War I.

Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin

Patrick Hawes’ The Great War Symphony takes the memorial and honouring the fallen approach on a much larger scale.

Hawes: The Great War Symphony

A World Forever Changed

While not explicitly about the war, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto (1919) is a moving testimony to just how much the war changed his music from his earlier “imperial” style. The concerto was only popularized in the 1960s by Jacqueline du Pre.

Elgar: Cello Concerto

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