Maurice Ravel, a French composer was already recognized throughout the world when the war began. He was reformed because of his small size and his low weight.
Yet he could not stand to stay out of the conflict and showed the desire to participate. He dreamed of being incorporated in the aviation but he served at the transport of the wounded on the front, on March 1916.
Very patriotic, he did not fall into nationalism and refused to join the National League for the defense of French music. He said, "I do not believe that for the preservation of our national artistic heritage it should be forbidden to perform in France some contemporary German and Austrian works of non-public domain. It matters little that Mr. Schoenberg, for example, is of Austrian nationality. He is nevertheless a high value musician, whose full interest research has a good influence on some allies’ composers, and even at home. "
In June 1917 he was finally reformed after a peritonitis and dysentery. He will never recover from his mother’s death.
Maurice Ravel is often compared to Debussy. He will remain insensitive to the echoes of the Armistice and will go through a period of doubt and silence.
Even if the Great War for Ravel lasted only a few months, his letters reflected the trauma of the war on a man and on his work.
His work "Le Tombeau de Couperin" (Couperin’s grave) written in 1917, is dedicated to his friends killed on the front.
Claude Debussy begins music by attending piano lessons, and at 11 years old he entered the Paris Conservatoire.
In 1884 he won the Grand Prix de Rome and the following year he began his internship during 3 years at the Villa Medici in Rome; he returned then to Paris where he attended meetings about "symbolist" poets as Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud.
At the war declaration, Debussy is desperate to be unfit for military service. It is for him a way to express his patriotism. He published three sonatas in 1916-1917.
“Le Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maisons” "Christmas for homeless children" is a song composed by Claude Debussy on December 1915 for voice and piano. The composer is also the author of the text. This work reflects the feeling of anger that animates the French people against the Germans since the beginning of the Great War. To avoid fightings, Claude Debussy was forced to move away with his family several times. Suffering from cancer, these many trips and the heavy costs forced Debussy into debt. At that time he composed very little.
“Christmas for homeless children” is a patriotic song and the last song he composed.
Debussy will remain an unconventional and unique composer all his life, and gives the image of freedom.
From 1918, his health rapidly decreased, and suffering from cancer, he died on March 25, 1918.
André Devaere is a young and talented Belgian pianist and composer, born in Kortrijk (Belgium) in 1890. He studied at the Brussels ‘Royal Conservatory and won several awards such as the first prize for piano with great distinction. He was invited to play many concerts and his dream was to compete with other young and talented musicians such as the Rome Prize and the Rubinstein Competition in 1915.
He composed works for piano, organ and songs based on texts written by French poets.
The First World War unfortunately interrupted his dreams. André Devaere enlisted in the 27th Regiment. On November 10th, 1914, he was seriously wounded at Saint-Georges-sur-Yser. His lungs were injured and he was transferred to the boarding school Sophie Berthelot in Calais, where he died on November 14th, 1914. He was just 24 years old.
Jacques Ibert is a French talented musician and composer, reformed from the army. He engaged in the Red Cross at 24 years old, at the beginning of the war. He has not yet completed his studies at the Paris Conservatory, but he wishes to engage and is assigned at the Surgical Hospital of Amiens - 2nd Infantry Division.
After a few months in Amiens, he travels around the Champagne and the Somme with the ambulance. He spent 18 months of full activity in the Somme, Champagne and the Vosges. He fell ill during the spring of 1917 and was reformed but joined the Navy Department. He was awarded the War Cross and received the Prix de Rome in 1919.
During the war he composed a work for piano: "Christmas in Picardy"; a series of 6 works for piano or harp « matin sur l’eau, Sherzetto, en barque le soir, ballade, reflets de l’eau et fantaisie ». He also composed "histoires" for piano and other works for organ.