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Great War: Unknown WarNews and Events

A Dream of Germany: Musical Reflections of the Great War Event

Music at 1pm Image
13 November 2017
Turner Sims, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this event, please email Louise Johnson at .

Event details

Mark Wilde tenor Joseph Spooner cello David Owen Norris piano

Edward Elgar                          Chantons Belges! (in English)



Sigfrid Karg-Elert                    War Songs

(1877-1933)                                         Gebet ans Volk

                                                            Deutschlands Flottenlied


F.S. Kelly                                 Songs

(1881-1916)                                         March

                                                            O Venus


                                                            Weep you no more

                                                            Shall I compare thee?

                                                            Music, when soft voices die                            


Gabriel Fauré                          Funeral March for cello and piano



David Owen Norris                 Think only this


Chantons Belges! was Elgar’s response to the invasion of Belgium that opened hostilities on the Western Front in 1914. Subtitled ‘Carillon’, in homage to the numerous belfries that were being destroyed in the bombardments, it sets words by the Belgian poet, patriot and refugee, Emile Cammaerts, who was the son-in-law of the very first Angel in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Marie Brema. The English translation is by Tita Brand, Cammaerts’s wife, who gave the first performance (in French) with Elgar conducting.

Sigfrid Karg-Elert had made piano transcriptions of Elgar’s First & Second Symphonies for Novellos. His transcription of the Symphonic Study Falstaff was never published. It bears the ominous postscript: Leipzig, on the 6th day of mobilization 1914. Karg-Elert signed up as a regimental musician, and composed strophic War Songs ‘in the folk style’. (David Owen Norris has recorded the transcriptions of Falstaff and of the First Symphony.) The two songs selected here show the poet Richard Dehmel following exactly the same trains of thought as Rupert Brooke.

Mark Wilde has found unpublished songs in the F.S. Kelly Archives in Australia. Kelly, born in Sydney, was an Olympic gold medallist in rowing (for Great Britain, in 1908), and a close friend of Rupert Brooke. Brooke (who died on the way to fight in the Dardanelles in 1915), the composer W. Denis Browne (killed in the Dardanelles in 1915) and Kelly (who survived Gallipoli but was killed in France) were members of a group of classically educated subalterns affectionately known by their men as ‘The Latin Club’. In the song ‘O Venus’, Kelly unaffectedly sets Horace in the original!

The slow movement of Fauré’s second Cello Sonata began life as a piece for military band composed for the dedication of the Inextinguishable Flame for the Unknown Warrior at the Arc de Triomphe.

David Owen Norris’s Think only this sets poems by John McCrae (In Flanders Fields), Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke: the title is taken from Brooke’s poem The Soldier. The cycle was first sung by Philip Langridge. Ian Partridge has broadcast the piece on Flanders Radio. It has been recorded both by Langridge and by Mark Wilde.

This programme has been drawn in part from the repertoire of the concert series A Dream of Germany, which our artists today performed in Oxford and London in 2014. The title is drawn from Henry Chorley, the music critic of The Athenaeum, who wrote in 1839 while visiting Leipzig: ‘Now I am indeed in the musical Germany of which I have so long dreamed.’


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