Proof through the Night: Music and the Great War

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University of California Press, Dec 30, 2002 - Music - 614 pages
Carols floating across no-man's-land on Christmas Eve 1914; solemn choruses, marches, and popular songs responding to the call of propaganda ministries and war charities; opera, keyboard suites, ragtime, and concertos for the left hand—all provided testimony to the unique power of music to chronicle the Great War and to memorialize its battles and fallen heroes in the first post-Armistice decade. In this striking book, Glenn Watkins investigates these variable roles of music primarily from the angle of the Entente nations' perceived threat of German hegemony in matters of intellectual and artistic accomplishment—a principal concern not only for Europe but also for the United States, whose late entrance into the fray prompted a renewed interest in defining America as an emergent world power as well as a fledgling musical culture. He shows that each nation gave "proof through the night"—ringing evidence during the dark hours of the war—not only of its nationalist resolve in the singing of national airs but also of its power to recall home and hearth on distant battlefields and to reflect upon loss long after the guns had been silenced.

Watkins's eloquent narrative argues that twentieth-century Modernism was not launched full force with the advent of the Great War but rather was challenged by a new set of alternatives to the prewar avant-garde. His central focus on music as a cultural marker during the First World War of necessity exposes its relationship to the other arts, national institutions, and international politics. From wartime scores by Debussy and Stravinsky to telling retrospective works by Berg, Ravel, and Britten; from "La Marseillaise" to "The Star-Spangled Banner," from "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" to "Over There," music reflected society's profoundest doubts and aspirations. By turns it challenged or supported the legitimacy of war, chronicled misgivings in miniature and grandiose formats alike, and inevitably expressed its sorrow at the final price exacted by the Great War. Proof through the Night concludes with a consideration of the post-Armistice period when, on the classical music front, memory and distance forged a musical response that was frequently more powerful than in wartime.

 

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Contents

In Search of Kultur
13
GREAT BRITAIN
31
Pomp and Circumstance
33
The Old Lie
47
The Symphony of the Front
61
FRANCE
81
Mobilization and the Call to History
83
War and the Children
103
The Yanks Are Coming
245
Onward Christian Soldiers
270
The 100 American
282
Proof through the Night
297
On Patrol in No Mans Land
312
Coming of Age in America
333
POSTARMISTICE
355
Goin Home
357

War Games 19141915
122
Charades and Masquerades
140
Church State and Schola
157
Neoclassicism Aviation and the Great War
170
ITALY
197
The World of the Future the Future of the World
199
GERMANYAUSTRIA
211
Dance of Death
213
The Last Days of Mankind
227
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
243
Ceremonials and the War of Nerves
372
The Persistence of Memory
386
Prophecies and Alarms
403
EPILOGUE
417
Unfinished Business
419
Notes
431
Selected Bibliography
541
Index
575
List of CD Contents
597
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Glenn Watkins is Earl V. Moore Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and author of Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists (1994), Soundings: Music in the Twentieth Century (1988), and Gesualdo: The Man and His Music (1991).

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