Silence recalled in sound
British classical music and the Armistice
in The silent morning
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The young composer Arthur Bliss served in the trenches from 1914 to 1918. In the early years of the war there had been attempts to ban all German music. Classical music has a far less prominent place in this cultural history. Even some musicologists have contributed to the neglect of First World War music. Bliss's Morning Heroes' eclectic selection of texts, and their strategic order, reflects the chronological progress of the war, from leave-taking and mass-mobilisation to battles and their aftermath. By writing a piece of music both for and about the silent soldiers and their dead, Bliss is giving them a voice. Morning Heroes is their tribute, and, in the first performances, it became quite literally the exsoldiers' collective voice. Silence and noise, gunfire and its absence, are crucial aspects of the soundscape of war. For Bliss, the silence of the Armistice was unbearable.

The silent morning

Culture and memory after the Armistice

Editors: Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy


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