Category Archives: Music

“Miralto Me Re”

F. T. Nettleingham’s excellent intoduction to Tommy’s Tunes (1917) explains the necessity for bowdlerisation, and for the exclusion of some songs: Soldier readers of this work will appreciate to what extent I have purged some of their favourites, and will appreciate all the more the reason I found it impossible to present even a purged […]

Shooting prisoners – and “Tommy’s Tunes”

Elizabeth Plackett’s comment on my post about giving cigarettes to German prisoners – in which she mentioned the possibly more common practice of shooting prisoners (which was, of course, a war crime) reminded me of a text that I had been intending to mention for a while. Online you can find the full text of […]

Elvis Costello

These days I’m mostly hunting out recent stories about the Great War, and sometimes finding them in unexpected places. I’m not really (as some regular readers might have guessed) a rock’n’roll dude, and Elvis Costello is a name I’ve registered, but I’ve never gathered that much about him, except that he’s a solid rocker, though […]

Propaganda, American and British

Ian Whitcomb’s essay Over There shows how in America official agencies such as George Creel’s Committee on Public Education mobilised the popular media (including music) from the very beginning of America’s engagement in the War. George Creel’s How We Advertised the War (1920) gives an account of how it was done. This was in marked […]

How Could Red Riding Hood?

The soundtrack for Christmas in our house has mostly been provided by Janet Klein and the Parlor Boys, singing rare, wonderful and often saucy songs from the twenties and thirties. I first discovered Janet Klein when I was trying to find out about a song that my mother used to sing a snatch of: How […]

Big Steamers

The new Fringes of the Fleet CD has arrived from Amazon, and very satisfactory it is, too. It has Elgar’s settings of Kipling’s poem-cycle, of course (with a version of the sinister  Tin Fish that should get anyone’s neck-hairs tingling), but there are also instrumental pieces by John Ansell and Haydn Wood and a setting […]

The Fringes of the Fleet

A new recording of Elgar’s Kipling settings, The Fringes of the Fleet, will soon be generally available, but can be pre-ordered from the Elgar Foundation, who are also offering a hefty discount if you also buy the book Oh My Poor Horses: Elgar and the Great War , an excellent compilation of essays that investigate […]

The Good Companions

Visiting London, I took the opportunity to book a research viewing at the British Film Institute, of a film I have wanted to see for years, Victor Savile’s 1933 version of The Good Companions. It was as good as I’d hoped, and like so many other British movies of the period, left me wondering why […]

The Bitter End

John Brophy was only fourteen when he enlisted in 1914, but maybe he thought readers of his novel The Bitter End (1928) might find that a bit hard to believe, so he makes his hero, Donald, sixteen. The book plots his hero’s increasing disillusion with war, from the extreme naivety of his enlistment to the […]

‘Songs of War’ at St James’s, Piccadilly.

Songs of War was a concert organised by the War Poets Association (together with societies remembering particular poets) in St James’s Church, Piccadilly yesterday evening. St James’s is a building of dignified elegance, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and located about half-way between Piccadilly Circus and Fortnum and Mason. It’s the church where Robert Graves […]