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Music Wars: 1937 - 1945

[Music Wars Cover]

Music played an unprecedented role in World War II. Whether live or through the recently developed mechanical media of radio, film and gramophone records, it was used by all sides for propaganda and morale-boosting.

The heightened need for music felt by millions was satisfied and exploited in a multitude of ways. The pianist Myra Hess stiffened the resolve of Londoners by launching a series of lunch time concerts at the National Gallery. The Bayreuth Festival opened its doors to war-wounded and munitions workers. In Paris on one day alone, 16 January 1944, a choice of eleven major musical events was offered to occupiers and occupied. Everywhere classical music flourished and reached new audiences.

The mightiest musical weapon of the war was Swing, an irresistible force that even the Nazis attempted to harness. Ultimately the music that most potently evokes the emotions and experiences of the war is that of the sentimental songs of loss and separation - Vera Lynn singing 'We'll Meet Again', Zarah Leander singing 'Ich weiss, es wird einmal ein Wunder geschehen' and of course, the song that changed sides 'Lili Marleen'.

See examples of some of the works discussed in this book below:

Vera Lynn - We'll Meet Again

Zarah Leander - Ich weiss, es wird einmal ein wunder geschehen

Asmahan - Ya Habibi Ta'ala


Patrick Bade is a senior lecturer at Christies Education where he has worked since 1981. He also teaches regularly at the London Jewish Cultural Centre. He has published extensively on visual arts and music.

232 x 154mm, 462 pp., many colour and black and white plates, paperback
ISBN 978 1 907318 07 8
12 April 2012


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