Book

Proof through the Night

Glenn Watkins

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231580.001.0001
Proof through the Night

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This book investigates the variable roles of the music of the Great War, primarily from the angle of the Entente nations' perceived threat of German hegemony in matters of intellectual and artistic accomplishment—a principal concern not only for Europe but also for the United States. It shows that each nation gave “proof through the night”—ringing evidence during the dark hours of the war—not only of its nationalist resolve in the singing of national airs but also of its power to recall home and hearth on distant battlefields and to reflect upon loss long after the guns had been silenced. It argues that twentieth-century modernism was not launched full force with the advent of the Great War but rather was challenged by a new set of alternatives to the prewar avant-garde. The book's central focus on music as a cultural marker during World War I exposes its relationship to the other arts, national institutions, and international politics. From wartime scores by Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky to telling retrospective works by Alban Berg, Maurice Ravel, and Benjamin Britten; from La Marseillaise to The Star-Spangled Banner, from It's a Long Way to Tipperary to Over There, music reflected society's profoundest doubts and aspirations. The book concludes with a consideration of the post-Armistice period when, on the classical music front, memory and distance forged a musical response that was frequently more powerful than in wartime.

Keywords: nationalist music; modernism; Great War; arts institutions; international politics; Claude Debussy; Igor Stravinsky; Alban Berg; Maurice Ravel; Benjamin Britten

Book.  614 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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