Songs and Stories of the Great War — “A Musical History Lesson”
On the 28th of July, 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia, blaming them for the assassination of their archduke in June. A week later all the great world powers were at war. . . the “war to end all wars” had begun.
Allies vs. Central Powers, brief explanation
SONG: Geordie McCraeThe rush to enlist “before the war ended”. Common for friends and coworkers to enlist together. Explain Heart of Midlothian Professional Football Team signing up together.
Why and when they were sung. Examples of early hopeful songs (The war would be over by Christmas, after all!) to more bitter, resentful songs as conflict dragged on.
SONG: Keep The Home Fires Burning – urges those at home to keep life going “till the boys come home”
SONG: [Medley] Pack Up Your Troubles/It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – the most popular song of WWI
SONG: The Band Played Waltzing Matilda – Explain strategy of the Battle of Gallipoli – one of the worst catastrophes of the war (casualties – Winston Churchill’s disgrace).
SONG: The Gift of Years – written for the 75th Anniversary Reunion in Turkey of the Battle of Gallipoli.
SONG: The Green Fields of France – One of the best known anti-war songs (the words say it all!)
SONG: Letters From Wilfred – Wilfred Edward Owen, one of the best known poets of the war, who died in the last week of the war.
SONG: As If He Knows –Australia sent 53,000 horses into WWI . . .only one returned. The sad ending to those sent to the Middle East. Elijah Kohn remembers his horse 70 years later.
SONG: In Flanders Fields – A powerful poem by Army doctor, John McCrae, after witnessing a German gas attack – put to music. The poem is first mention of the Flanders poppy which became the universal symbol of remembrance
SONG: Christmas in the Trenches – well documented unofficial truce
AMERICA — America entered the war 1917. One million men under General Pershing. Industrial might and additional troops helped break German resistance
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month – President Wilson formed the League of Nations as a “definite guarantee of peace”. The League allowed German soldiers to march back home, giving civilians no sense of just losing a war. Germany was, however, stripped of territory, armaments and their ships sunk rather than allow the British Navy to take them. Reducing the German military festered huge resentment by the German people . . .the stage was set for the rise to power by a WWI German Corporal – Adolf Hitler. The “War to end all wars” would bring peace for only 20 years.
SONG: (unaccompanied) Only Remembered
CONCLUSION OF PROGRAM
[Trench Songs could be added throughout the program for additional interest and perhaps, audience participation. This program would be approximately 2 hours in length and could certainly be made longer or shorter.]
VISUAL AIDS — Relevant pictures are looped throughout the presentation to emphasize the storytelling and songs.