You may not have realized it (unless you are a history buff), but 2014 marked the centenary of the beginning of the Great War, aka World War I (1914 – 1918).
Why are we talking about this historical event in a music blog? That’s because we just came across a very interesting article published by the National Public Radio (NPR) that talks, very compellingly, about the music created during that time, and how it reflects the moods of musicians caught up in this devastating conflict.
As the article notes, “The extraordinary level of destruction inspired them in myriad ways. Some composers captured the war’s violence while others seemed to counteract it by writing music that soothed.”
We’d like to share with you some of the music composed during and after this terrible war (which, unfortunately, wasn’t the last one).
Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin” During the war, the French composer drove a truck near the front at Verdun. The six-movement “Le tombeau de Couperin” is dedicated to Ravel’s six friends killed in the war.
Welsh lyricist and composer Ivor Novello wrote a heart-tugging song, “Keep the Homes Fires Burning (Till the Boys Come Home”) in 1915. Irish tenor John McCormack recorded the song in 1917.
Perhaps the best known WWI song on this side of the Big Pond was composed by New Yorker George M. Cohan, whose statue graces the Times Square. “Over There” “Over There” was written two days after President Wilson declared war on Germany; according to the NPR article, it was “a morale booster, an incentive for men to enlist and the first in a string of patriotic hits that later earned Cohan a Congressional Gold Medal.”
These and other songs, though from another era, beautifully express the emotions and perspectives of those who participated in the war or observed it first-hand.
And even many decades after the war ended, composers continued to commemorate this event, which forever re-shaped the landscape of Europe. One such example is the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night by Kevin Puts.
Obviously, our Hey Joe Guitar teachers are much too young to remember the wars our country had fought in, but they can certainly relate to heart-felt music, whether written during the war(s) or in peacetime.
What is most important to you is that our Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Riverdale teachers can relay their love of music to each student, so that your child will have the best instruction possible – no matter what instrument he or she plays.