Event: Remembering World War One

11-11-11: World War I Remembered through Words and Melody
Guest lecture featuring William Brooks
11:00 a.m.
Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
Admission: Free

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November of 1918 was designated as the official cessation of World War I hostilities between Germany and the Allied forces. Music was essential in shaping America’s willingness to enter the war, and it was equally important in forming America’s memories when the war ended. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson and most of the country were resolutely neutral; but after the sinking of the Lusitania the country’s mood gradually shifted. The change was both mirrored and furthered by the history of an immensely popular song, Archie Gottler’s “America, I Love You.” War was eventually declared on April 6, 1917, and George M. Cohan allegedly wrote “Over There” the next day; Cohan’s song became an unofficial rallying cry on both the battlefield and the home front. By summer of 1918 the country was beginning to confront the magnitude of its losses, and the poem “In Flanders Fields” served first as a reaffirmation of resolve and later as a memorial to those who died.  Musical settings of that poem, by John Philip Sousa and others manifest the country’s passage from war through grief and into remembrance.

Join musician, composer, and music scholar William Brooks (Associate Professor of Composition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) as he traces America’s wartime history through sheet music, recordings, and live performances of the music written by Gottler, Cohan, Sousa, and others. The live performances will feature singer (and UIP editor-in-chief) Laurie C. Matheson (DMA, choral music, UIUC) and accompanist Rachel Jansen (DMA, coaching and accompanying, UIUC) For further information contact the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music 217-333-4577 or (schwrtzs@illinois.edu).