November 19, 2018, is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. The #ClassicaDay team asked participants to post classical works related to the conflict.
For my part, I tried to find examples from both sides of the war, and from as many different countries as possible. Here are my posts from the first full week of November.
George Butterworth (UK) – Banks of Green Willow
Butterworth was just starting his career when WW1 broke out. He was killed at the Battle of the Somme, 8/25/16. His body was never recovered. His tone poem, “Banks of the Green Willow” became an anthem for the War’s Unkown Soldiers.
André Caplet (France) – Les Prières (1914-1917)
Serving in the French army, Caplet was wounded twice. He was gassed, which severely damaged his lungs and lead to his death in 1925. Caplet was a close friend of Debussy. His song cycle Les Prières as completed during the war.
Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (Russia) – Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 17
Myaskovsky was wounded on the Austrian front and suffered from shell-shock. He was transferred to Tallinn to work on navel fortifications. While working and recovering, he produced two symphonies – Nos. 4 and 5.
Maurice Ravel (France) – Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm in WW1. Determined to carry one, he commissioned left-handed piano works after the war. Ravel’s Concerto is one that’s entered the repertoire (both one- and two-handed versions).
Edgar Bainton (UK/Australia) – String Quartet in A (1919)
Conductor/composer Bainton was attending a Wagner Bayreuth festival when WW1 broke out. He was sent to the Ruhleben internment camp outside Berlin. Bainton soon became its music director, working with fellow prisoners Arthur Benjamin and Edward Clark to produce chamber music concerts, operetta productions, and musical lectures. His String Quartet was one of the first pieces completed after the War.
Paul Hindemith (Germany) – String Quartet No.2 in F minor, Op. 10 (1917)
Hindemith’s father enlisted at age 44 when the war broke out. He was killed in hand-to-hand combat in 1915. Hindemith was conscripted in 1917. He served in Flanders in 1918, according to his diary “surviving grenade attacks only by good luck.” His second string quartet was written for a quartet he formed with fellow soldiers.
Enrique Granados (Spain) – Canción del Postillón (1916)
Granados was in New York when war broke out in Europe. Because of the conflict, he was unable to return directly to Spain. Granados sailed to England, then booked passage on the passenger ferry SS Sussex to France. The ship was sunk by a German U-boat. Granados, who was afraid of water, drowned while unsuccessfully trying to save his wife. The Canción del Postillón is one of his last works.