Saturday 6 April 2024


Popular music

The Bernard S. Parker World War One Sheet Music Collection consists of 753 pieces of sheet music (most are the larger format 11x14 inch size with a small assortment of 7x10 inch "War Editions"). The sheet music is organized alphabetically by title. Most were published betweeen 1914 and 1920, but a few date back to the late 19th Century.

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (born Leon Dudley Sorabji; 14 August 1892 – 15 October 1988) - English composer, music critic, pianist and writer whose musical output spanned eight decades and ranges from sets of miniatures to works lasting several hours. 

Poems by Robert Nichols set to music:

In 1919 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji wrote Music to "The Rider by Night" (not extant in full). Peter Warlock (a close friend) composed a choral setting of The Full Heart in 1916, and a song setting of The Water Lily in 1922, along with others, now lost. The Naiads' Music and The Pigeon Song were set by Arthur Bliss (also a friend) in his Pastoral: (Lie Strewn White Flocks) of 1928,[9] and Bliss also used Dawn on the Somme in his choral symphony Morning Heroes of 1930. E J Moeran set Blue-eyed spring for voice and piano in 1932[10] and used poetry from the unfinished play Don Juan Tenorio the Great for his Nocturne for baritone solo, chorus and orchestra of 1935.[11] Christian Darnton set five poems by Nichols in his 1938 work Swansong, for soprano and orchestra.

A soldier’s thought of home

This song was written by Reginald Walter Jones MC, MM, who served in the 14th Battalion and was awarded the MC and MM. Two of his brothers, also in the 14th Battalion, died on the Western Front. The lyrics could have been written after the loss of one or both of his brothers - the final line reads "He knows his old home will be lonely, when he reaches the forest again". Reginald’s mother, Salome Elizabeth Jones, wrote a letter to Birdwood in 1920 - held in 3DRL/3376 9/1 Item 5 – in which she mentions her “two dear sons who “fell” in battle and have now entered into higher service”. The music was composed by James Dodd.

Check out these websites:

The lyrics to “Keep the Home Fires burning” were written by American poet Lena Guilbert Brown Ford who was killed in an air raid in London in 1918.

Amazing addition to his AGWP website about popular WW1 music from Dominic Sheridan -

Classical Music

Prince Eugen Franz ALBRECHT of Prussia, German (1864 – 1916)- Conductor and composer,_Op.15_(Albrecht_of_Prussia,_Prince_Joachim)

Georges ANTOINE, Belgian (1892 – 1918) died of Influenza 15th September 1918

Walter ASCH, German (1893 – 1915) – 2nd May 1915, Tarnov, Galicia, pupil of Pfizner

Arthur BLISS, British (1891 - 1975); served with Royal Fusiliers then Grenadier Guards, wounded twice and gassed. Arthur’s younger brother Francis Kennard Bliss, poet, was killed Thiepval 1916; “Morning Heroes”

Alban BERG, Austrian (1885 – 1935) – served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1. 

Erwin BOCK, Austrian (? – 1916) – Killed Italy, Cadet. With the Tirroler Kaiserjãggeregt.

Ina BOYLE (1889 - 1969) – Irish. Set several WW1 poems to music (Winifred M. Letts, Rudyard Kipling, Herbert Asquith Jnr.) “Soldiers at Peace” by Herbert Asquith – see photos.

William Denis BROWNE, British (1888 – 1915) RNAS Antwerp – Hood Battalion (Rupert Brooke); killed Gallipoli 4th June 1915

Thomas O’BRIEN BUTLER, Irish (   - 1915) – drowned when “Lusitania” torpedoed; wrote first Gaelic opera 

George BUTTERWORTH, British (1885 – 1916) killed on The Somme

André CAPLET, to whom Debussy had entrusted the orchestration of some of his most popular piano works, including “Clair de Lune

Edward CLARK, British (1888 - 1962) Conductor and music journalist. Attending the Bayreuth Festival in Germany in August 1914, he was interned in Ruhleben Internment Camp near Berlin, Germany until May 1918 when he was released through the intervention of the Red Cross. 

Cecil COLES, British (1888 - 1918) – killed 26th April 1918. Buried Crouy. Bandmaster Queen Victoria’s Rifles. “Cortège”. Cecil Coles ( - 1918) – British musician Friend of Gustav Holst

Emile DEBERT, French (? – 1915) – killed Argonne 30th April 1917; pianist/composer

Claude DEBUSSY, French (1852 – 1918) – Died of Cancer during the German Spring Offensive on Paris on 1918. Paris was heavily shelled during his funeral and the church in which the funeral was held was destroyed two days later killing 88 people and injuring 68.

Edward ELGAR (1857 - 1934) – Volunteered as a Special Constable in his local Police Force and then joined the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve.

Hanns EISLER ( - ) – Austrian-born

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Ernest FARRAR, British (1885 – 1918) killed Epehy Ronssay, Western Front, 16th September 1918 (Grenadier Guards – 2nd Lieutenant 3 Bn. Devonshire Regiment).  “Caprice” arranged by McOpera’s Stern Adam –

Ernest Farrar taught the young Gerald Finzi (19-1 – 1956), who later wrote his “Requiem da Camera” in memory of his teacher.

Edwin FIRTH (1888 - 1918) was 'by far the finest ever cornet player.' He had played with Earby and Skipton bands before being invited to join Foden's Band in 1909. He was 19 years old. He led Foden's Band to victories at both the National Championships at Crystal Palace and the Belle Vue British Open at Manchester. In addition, he was no mean composer and, among other compositions, won a National award for his march 'Westward Ho!' In 1917 he volunteered to enlist with the Artists Rifles. In February 1918 Edwin's Regiment was posted out to France, where he naturally took with him a cornet. On 1st June 1918 he was killed by an exploding shell and is buried in the Varennes Military Cemetery, Albert, Somme, France.


Like Holst, Foulds was active in morale boosting for the troops through the organization of concerts. Whilst he didn’t write anything during the war, his A World Requiem  (1919-21) was composed in memory of the war dead from all countries. This piece had yearly performances between 1923-6 in the first Festivals of Remembrance.

Guido von GILLHAUSEN, German ( ? – 1918) – killed Eastern Front

Enrique GRANADOS, Spanish Catalan composer (1867 – 1916) – drowned 24th March 1916 trying to save his wife when the cross-Channel ferry S.S. “Sussex” was sunk

Ivor GURNEY, British (1890 - 1937); also a poet.  Shell shocked after serving on the Western Front with the Gloucestershire Regiment

Fernand Gustave HALPEN, French (1872 – 1917) – died May 1917; pupil of Massenet

Sir Herbert Hamilton HARTY (1879 – 1941) -  Irish composer, conductor, pianist and organist.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895 – 1963) - German composer, violist, violinist, teacher and conductor

Gustav HOLST, British (1874 - 1934) – Unfit for military service – bother Emil joined the British Army, wife Isabel drove ambulances in France.  At the end of the war Holst joined the YMCA and became Musical Organiser for the education of troops in the ear East. 

John IRELAND (1879 - 1962) – British Won a competition for a musical composition in 1917;  Violin Sonata No. 2: completed in January 1917, he submitted this to a competition organised to assist musicians in wartime. The jury included the violinist Albert Sammons and the pianist William Murdoch, who together gave the work its first performance at Aeolian Hall in New Bond Street on 6 March that year

Frank Maurice JEPHSON  A.R.C.O. Assistant organist of the Westbourne Park Church, 1902; organist of Richmond-upon-Thames Presbyterian Church, 1904. b. Derby, England, 1886; d. France, Apr. 20th, 1917 (killed in action).  (thanks to Ciaran Conlan for telling us about Frank)

Died 1917. Jephson was an organist and composer.

David JONES ( - 1917) – Welsh musician - harpist

Frederick Septimus KELLY, Australian-British (1881 – 1916) – Somme; also a rower – Summer Olympics 1908

Andre Victor Louis LAPORTE, French (1889 – 1918) – pupil of Paul Vidal (symphonic poem for orchestra and 

Hugh Gordon LANGTON, British (1885 – 1917) - violinist

Alberic MAGNARD, French (1865 – 3 September 1914) composer killed by German troops in his manor house in Baron, Oise, while resisting invasion. Composed operas, chamber music and songs.

Lucien MAILLIEUX, French composer/pianist (? – 14 November 1914), pupil of Xavier Leroux. Wrote 15 pieces for piano, and violin or solo piano and a ballet and songs to verses by de Dubor.

Willie (William) Braithwaite MANSON, New Zealand (1896 – 1916), composer of songs to poems by Longfellow, Rosssetti and Houseman. Royal Academy of Music, London. Studied Royal Academy of Music, London. Joined London Scottish Regiment and was killed on his birthday, 1st July 1916 Gommecourt, Somme. 

Auguste MASSACRIER, French (1872 – 1914), composer of soldiers’ marching songs Killed Chavette October 1914.

Herbert Goldstein MATHESON, British (1884 – 1918), composer of popular songs, 2nd Lieutenant, 13th Kensington Battalion, London Regiment, killed 23rd March 1918, France.

Pierre MAYER, French (1894 – 1915), killed Beauséjour/Mesnil-les-Hurlus. Composer of Chamber Music.

Ernest J. MOERAN, British-born of Irish origin (1894 – 1950)- Composer/violin and piano player.  Despatch rider in Norfolk Regiment. Transferred to West Yorkshire Regiment, wounded on Western Front Bullecourt, 3rd May 1917. After the War taught music briefly at Uppingham School before resuming his studies at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford.

Stevan MOKRANJAC, Serbian (? – 1914) – Composer

Philippe MOREAU, French (1880 – 1914) – disappeared near Dienz, Lorraine, France, 25th August 1914. Composer/Conductor. Pupil of Xavier Leroux.  

Jaroslav NOVOTNY, Czech (1886 – 1918) Composer of songs and choral works.  Student of Novák.  Officer in the Czech Legion. Killed Miass-Ural 1st May 1918.

Sir Hubert PARRY composer and Director of the Royal College of Music (From The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: “During the war he watched a life's work of progress and education being wiped away as the male population, particularly the new fertile generation of composing talent of the Royal College, dwindled.” But Parry proposed confidence that, even in greatest trauma, the “finest results in art” would profit, and that “those who can extract something true and inspiring out of such a welter of wild realities are likeliest to reinvigorate the things that tend to become stale and unprofitable”. “If you want to stupefy a genius, the surest way to do it is to keep him in cotton wool”. And, despite the knowledge that not all would return, he saluted those who continued to volunteer: “There are a vast number of our best and most gifted ones offering themselves to the same fate. All honour to them, and all anxiety to us!”) 

Viktor POIGER, Austrian (? – 1916) – Pilot in Austrian Air Force. Composer of songs. Killd 7th April 1916 in an air crash.

André PRADELS, French (? – 1916) composer. Son of singer Octave Pradels. Killed Verdun 8th April 1916.

Anton RABEL, German (? – 1918) Composer of songs and piano pieces;  from Munich.  Pupil of Beer-Walbrunn.

Aladar RADO, Hungarian (1882 – 1914). Composer of orchestral works, operas, songs and chamber music. Killed River Sava, Serbian Front 9th September 1914.

Maurice RAVEL, French (1875 – 1937) – Tried to enlist in the French Air Force but was not fit enough.   Joined 13th Artillery Regiment as a driver and drove lorries behind the lines.  “Le Tombeau de Couperin”

Johannes SCHMIEDGEN, German (1886 – 1916) – composer from Dresden. Requiem completed in the Trenches.

Cyril ROOTHAM (1875 – 1938) – British; set Binyon’s “For the Fallen” to music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG, Austrian (1875 – 1937) – called up for service in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Philippe August Botho SIGWART, Graf zu Eulenburg, German (1884 – 1915) Piano Sonata D Major. Died of wounds 2nd June 1915, Leki, Galicia.

Dame Ethel Mary SMYTH Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, DBE (22 April 1858 – 8 May 1944) – composed the music to the Suffragette’s March (words by WW1 poet Cicily Hamilton). Dame Ethel also composed a comic opera about WW1 – “Entente Cordiale”

Rudi STEPHAN, German (1887 – 1915) – killed on the Eastern Front at Tarnopol, Galicia. Composed music for piano and orchestra.

Florian THIESSIG, German (1856 – 1916) – died in a Russian civil POW camp in Pensa.  Operas, Oratorios, orchestral pieces.

Francis Purcell WARREN, British (1895 – 1916) – Royal Warwickshire Regiment, killed Somme 3rd July 1916, 2nd Lt. Lancashire Regiment; Royal College of Music;  composer of music for strings.

Jerrard George WILKINSON (1885 – 1916) – killed 1st July 1916 on the Somme at Beaumont Hamel. Duke of Cambridge’s Own; Middlesex Regiment.  Composer of songs – “From a Distance”, “Nine Songs and Duets from the Ancient Japanese”

Ralph Vaughan WILLIAMS, British (1872 – 1958) – served in the British Army in WW1. Pupil of Maurice Ravel.  “A Pastoral Symphony”

Paul WITTGENSTEIN (1887 - ) – Austrian; pianist; POW WW1; wounded – lost an arm.

Sinking of the “Lusitania”, 7th May 1915

During the sinking of the “Lusitania” Justus Miles FORMAN (1889 – 7 May 1915), American novelist and playwright died, along with theatre producer Charles FROHMAN and playwright Charles KLEIN – they were travelling together.  The American painter Reginald Purse also perished.  The writer Osmund Bartle Wordsworth, who was related to the poet, was among the survivors of the liner’s sinking, along with his sister Ruth, with whom he had been returning to Britain.  He was one of the last to leave the ship and gave his lifejacket to another passenger.  Osmund was killed on the Western Front in 1917.

Additional Notes

According to Tim Cross in “Lost Voices of World War 1” (Bloomsbury, London, 1988), there was a German composer called Hermann HESSE who was killed in 1917.  He was from Hamburg and composed a symphonic poem called “Pro Patria”   Cross cites a German publication called “Neue Musik-Zeitung, xxxix, 18 as his source for this, so I will try and contact the publication if I can.

However, I can only find details via the Internet of the German writer Herman Hesse whose “Steppenwolf” I have read.  Hesse also wrote poems so I have included him in Forgotten Poets of the First World War.

Camille SAINT-SAENS French (1835 - 1921) founded the League for the Defence of French Music (La Ligue pour la Defense de la Musique Franҫaise) during the First World War in order to ban the playing of German and Austrian music.


Tim Cross “Lost Voices of World War 1” (Bloomsbury, London, 1988), pp 387 – 406.

LUCY LONDON, June 2017 (Revised, slightly, November 2018, September 2019)