Exhibition 2016: Music during the Great War

Music was omnipresent during the Great War. It was a sort of outlet, a shout of despair, and it was used by amateurs and also as a means of propaganda to boost the morale of the troops. Music concerned all the soldiers and all nationalities and was undoubtedly useful to mental health.

During these years of conflict, the soldiers also created new music places.

On the front line in the trenches, war gives way only for easy carrying instruments like the harmonica and the mandolin.

In second line and in the barracks, in expectation or anxiety to go back to the front, the soldiers tinker musical instruments, utensils diverted from their original function and creative ingenuity.

During this time, in big cities far from the front and in Paris, the upper-classes have party.

On the other hand when all the men left for the front the countryside becomes sadly silent. Men have to be replaced and the population had to try to support somehow the daily needs. Lack of labor is felt, which does not encourage party or music.

In 1917, the entry into war of the United States will mark a turning point in the world of music: black American musicians will bring Jazz and new musical instruments in Europe.

This breaking news will influence the European music after the Great War, and at the liberation the soldiers and population will rediscover with joy the popular balls and musical parties.

Video of James Reese Europe and the 369 Infantry Division who fought in France during WW1.