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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Classical to Dub-Reggae: The First World War and Musical Memory (Peter Grant)


peter grant

Peter Grant, one of the UK’s leading practitioners in charitable funding and author of a book on popular music and the First World War, highlights the potential of non-traditional musical forms in post-war commemoration.

Scholars such as John Sloboda, Ben Anderson and Michael Pickering and Emily Keightley have demonstrated that the most valued outcome people place on listening to music is the remembrance of past events.1 With an event as universal and traumatic as the First World War this value is even greater.

The nature of who is remembering what has changed over 100 years as those with first-hand experience of the period have died. Take for example two pieces written in the War’s immediate aftermath. Arthur Bliss’s choral work Morning Heroes is a deeply personal tribute to lost comrades, most notably his own brother. It was the first work to set one of Wilfred Owen’s poems to music: ‘Spring Offensive’ appears alongside passages from the Iliad, Walt Whitman’s ‘Drum Taps’, verse by the eighth-century Chinese poet Li Bai and Robert Nichols’s ‘Dawn on the Somme’. Its use of heroic Homeric verse has made it deeply unfashionable. Havergal Brian’s surrealist comedy opera The Tigers, though conforming to the irony Paul Fussell diagnosed as characterising the conflict in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), should be far better known and is crying out for a première ←265 | 266→production. In the 1920s Bliss was in tune with current remembrance practice and...

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