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[Created: 3 Jan. 2022]
[Updated: January 31, 2023 ]
Albrecht Dürer "The Sixth Trumpet" from the Apocalypse
Norman Lindsay WW1 recruiting poster (1918)
This is part of a collection of material on my course "Responses to War".
Music has been a powerful means of expressing a variety of emotions inspired by war and peace. First, there is the patriotic or celebratory work which is designed to inspire men to fight for their country or to justify past conflicts. National anthems like the French "Marseillaise" are bloodthirsty examples of this kind of martial music. These works have usually been composed by "court composers" in the pay of the crown or the state. Secondly, there is the music of the soldiers themselves, invented or adapted for marching to war, lamenting one's separation from home and loved ones, for passing time during frequent periods of inactivity or for expressing their resentment of the incompetence of their leaders and the fate that led them to the battlefield. Thirdly, there is the music of the protesters, mostly civilians though sometimes veterans as well, who use song to oppose conscription, the killing of innocent bystanders, those who profit financially and politically from war, and sometimes even to oppose war itself. Finally, there are the composers who use music to express the sorrow and pity of war, to commemorate those who have died, and to use the emotive power of music to condemn war and the folly of men who make war. I use music frequently in the teaching of this subject to show how music has been another ideological weapon in the debate about war and peace over the centuries and as yet another example of the pervasive impact war has had on our culture.
This Guide lists some recommended reading and works of music and song, many of which I have played in the lectures. Personal favourites of mine are:
Ben Arnold, Music and War: A Research and Information Guide (New York: Garland, 1993).
Peace Songs: WMA Anniversary Collection, ed. John Jordan (London: Kahn and Averill, 1989).
R. Serge Denisoff, Songs of Protest, War and Peace: A Bibliography and Discography (American Bibliographical Center-Clio Press Inc., Santa Barbara, California, 1973).
Rowland Cotterill, "War and Music in the Sixteenth Century" in War, Literature and the Arts in Sixteenth-Century Europe, ed. J.R. Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 63-77.
The Rock Music Source Book, ed. Bob Macken, Peter Fornatale and Bill Ayres (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1980). See entries for "War and Peace", pp. 444-60.
The Rambling Soldier: Life in the Lower Ranks, 1750-1900, Through Soldiers' Song and Writings, ed. Roy Palmer (Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1977).
Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" (1940).
Hector Berlioz's operatic treatment of war in a classical context: The Trojans (1856-8).
Sir Michael Tippet's opera King Priam (1962)
Katchaturian's Ballet Spartacus (1958, 1968)
George Frederick Handel's Opera Julius Casear (1724)
Wagner - Parsifal, Tristan and Isolde, Ring cycle of operas
The Musical "Camelot"
"Music of the Crusades," The Early Music Consort of London, David Munrow (Decca, 1970)
Honegger's Oratorio Jeanne au Bûcher (1938)
War of the Hymns - Luther's "Ein feste Burg vs Catholic "Te Deum"
Josquin Desprez (1440-1521): Missa "L'homme armé" (late 15thC) in "L'homme armé (1450-1650): Music of War and Peace (Boston Camerata, Joël Cohen, Erato 1986)
"musical combat" - Andrea Gabrielli (1520-1586), Bataglia: Sento un rumor and Tilman Susato (d. 1561), Pavanne: La Bataille.
Roland Lassus (1532-1594), In hora ultima
Claude Goudimel (1514-1572), Ô combien est plaisant. (Psalm 133).
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), The Freischütz (1821).
Richard Strauss (1864-1940),
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).
Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963)
George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)
James Thomson's "Rule Britannia" (1740) in "Last Night of the Proms" 100th anniversary concert
Music and the War of 1812 "The Defence of Fort Henry" or "The Star Spangled Banner" (1814) by Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
Rouget de Lisle's "La Marseillaise" (1792)
Ludwig van Beethoven's attitude to war, the French Revolution and Napoleon:
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) - "1812 Festival Overture" Op. 49 (1880)
"John Brown's Body"
America's Favorite Ballads ... As Sung by Pete Seeger (New York: Oak, 1961), p. 62.
Paul Robeson, Ballad for Americans, and Great Songs of Faith, Love and patriotism (Vanguard CD 1965, 1989)
CD: Songs of the Civil War: First Recordings from Original Editions, The Harmoneion Singers and Lawrence Skrobacs, piano (New World Records, 1976).
Hopkins' New Orleans 5 Cent Songbook vs Beadle's Dime Songs for the War
Political Rallying Songs
Songs about Political and Military Leaders
Battle and Campaign Songs
The Life of Ordinary Soldiers
The Emotion of War: Separation and Grief
Gilbert and Sullivan
Jingoistic popular songs
the Republican "Songbook of the War in Spain With Contributions of the Finest Poets in Spain" (1937). Music in Nazi Germany
Nazi marching songs - the Horst Wessel song
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and the Bayreuth Festival
Court Composers, Conductors, Performers - Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954), Richard Strauss, Walter Gieseking
Jazz as music of resistance or opposition
Music Inspired by the Atomic Bombs
So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)
Werner von Braun
Bill Evans, "Peace Piece" (1958)
Charles Mingus, "Prayer for Passive Resistance" (1960) and "Oh Lord, Don't let them drop that Atomic Bomb on me" (1961)
Staff Sergenat Barry Sadler "The Ballad of the Green Berets" (1966) no. 1 hit and gold record
Bruce Springsteen "Shut Out the Light" (1985), "Born in the USA" (1985)
Political "Black Music"
Punk and Post-Punk
John Williams' muisc for the Star Wars Trilogy (1977-83)