Music in the Midst of Conflict

Soldiers take a banjo break from the fighting.(Photo: National Archives)
Soldiers take a banjo break from the fighting.(Photo: National Archives)

A limousine pulls to the curb.  A sharply dressed driver hops out, circles the car, opens the door, and a man dressed in torn, dirty clothes, unshaven, and in need of a shower steps out of the vehicle.  Not at all what one expected.

These photos show music out of context.  You generally expect to hear classical music in a concert hall, or maybe onstage outdoors…not performed before a barricade lined by soldiers.

There is an iconic photo of an anti-war protester putting a flower into the barrel of a National Guardsman’s rifle.  To me, this is the musical equivalent.

The video below shows music written in the aftermath of WWI.  After losing his right arm in the war, pianist Paul Wittgenstein commissioned Maurice Ravel to write a concerto for the left hand.  Leon Fleisher plays  a portion of the concerto below.

Read Music in conflict: 19 iconic images

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