Concert programs provide insight into musical life during the First World War.
At the start of World War I, German concert life was filled with gestures of enthusiasm for the war effort: beginning with Nun danket alle Gott at the mobilization before Berlin Castle, religious and national hymns on unity and strength, compositions like Max Reger’s Vaterländische Ouvertüre, and wartime hits like Der Soldate ist der schönste Mann im ganzen Staate were widespread.
Yet the mood quickly changed. Already in December 1914, music critic Bruno Schrader complained about the playing of the Emperor’s March at the end of every concert. And at some point, there is nothing at all left of the initial enthusiasm: after four years of world war, what remains on the programs are primarily requiems and the “request for new voices of men and women” to “allow the choral voices so missed at our services for two years to sound out again.” Using a selection of concert programs, the exhibition of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung provides insight into concert life during the period from 1914–1918.