Thursday, October 10, 2013

Music and War - An Example, Mostly Forgotten...

On June 10, 1942, one of the most deadly and defining events contained in the saga of World War II took place in Czechoslovakia, in a town named Lidice; not far from Prague.
On that day,  a group of soldiers from Hitler's  army of occupation  took all of the men of  Lidice, marched them to a church, and executed them. The women and children were marched out of the town, sent to Germany, and disappeared into history.
The following days, teams were brought in to raze the town to the ground, leaving nothing but the  remains of the foundations of  a number of homes and  municipal buildings.
This event took place because of the assassination by two Czech patriots flown in from England,  to do away with, arguably, the most pure form of Nazism other than Hitler himself -  a man named Reinhardt Heydrich, who had been appointed by Hitler to reign over regions called Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich had, earlier in that year,   directed  a meeting near Berlin to deal with The Final Solution.
In 1947, a British composer named Alan Bush presided over a performance of one of his works  for chorus which he named 'Lidice' - this performance took place at the site of this monstrous happening.
I do not know if a recording of this work  has  ever been made -  I know it contains one of the ancient  Greek modes (Aeolian, I believe),which, in my view, helps project the ageless connection with Human Tragedy.
There are, of course, many works of art which depict War -for me, Picasso is the most powerful messenger in his 'Guernica';  however, the work by Alan Bush has been pretty much forgotten (Bush WAS talented enough to be accepted as a student by such luminaries as Benno Moiseiwitsch, John Ireland and Artur Schnabel),  as he is not among the great composers. But it IS another  reminder  of how art  and its descriptions of  the darker side of the human condition are constant cohabitants...

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