Soldiers of Remembrance




In Soldiers of Remembrance, chorus and soloists sing the roles of people in our own time who are reviving experiences from a hundred years ago. One of the soloists (the tenor) is a soldier-archeologist sifting remains at the site where a fighter plane was downed in a field near the Somme River. Three travelers arrive, looking for information about a downed airman. A mysterious box of old songs has been found in a farmhouse. The lyrics express the bitterness, sorrow, bravery, and bewilderment of air and ground combatants, bereaved lovers and fiancées, patients and nurses in a field hospital, and a mother foreseeing the death of her son. Although it is impossible for any work of art to reproduce the actual anguish of a past war, we hope the performance of this dramatic oratorio will open new sensibilities to history.

Note: A number of musical quotations and transformations are used. There is a brief motivic reference to sources 1 and 3 (see below) in movement 2 (Music Hall). Movement 5 (The Yanks Are Coming) is a quodlibet that contains fragments of most of the source materials listed below (often morphed and combined with original material). Movement 7 (Delirium) refers to some of the sources already quoted in movement 5 plus a few new ones. Sources 4 and 12 are distorted so as to sound like they are being played on an old Victrola that is either winding down or in a few cases winding up. In all cases the music is in the public domain (first published in the U. S. 1915-1918). The songs that are woven into the fabric are identified below. The source numbers (found in the full score), identify the title, composer and lyricist, year of composition and publisher. Some of these sources have been used multiple times and changed substantially. Not all uses of each source are identified. Special thanks to Wilbur Vroegh who provided a large library of WWI sheet music that proved to be invaluable during the composition of the work.

Source 1: The Rose Of No Man's Land, Jack Caddigan (music), James A. Brennan and Louis Delamarre, ©1918 New York: Leo-Feist, Inc. Source 2: Over There, George M. Cohan, © 1917 New York: Leo-Feist, Inc.
Source 3: Johnny Get Your Gun And Be A Soldier, Jack Glogau (music), Jack Yellen (words), ©1917 Philadelphia: Emmett G. Walsh pub. Source 4: When We Wind Up The Watch On The Rhine, Gordon Thompson and William Davis, ©1917 New York: Leo-Feist, Inc.

Source 5: When Old Glory Floats Over the Rhine, Leone Driscol, ©1918 Omaha: Driscol-Jones
Source 6: The Ragtime Volunteers Are Off To War, James F. Hanley (music), Ballard Macdonald (words), ©1917 New York: Shapiro, Bernstein. Source 7: Wee Wee Marie (Will You Do This For Me), Fred Fisher (music), Joe McCarthy (words), ©1918, New York: McCarthy and Fisher Inc. Source 8: Where Do We Go From Here, Howard Johnson and Percy Wenrich, ©1917 New York: Leo-Feist, Inc.
Source 9: America, Here's My Boy, Arthur Lange (music), Andrew B. Sterling (words), ©1917 New York: Joe Morris Music Inc.
Source 10: Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning, Irving Berlin, ©1918 New York: Waterson, Berlin and Snyder.
Source 11: I Don't Want To Get Well, Harry Jentes (music), Howard Johnson and Harry Pease (words), ©1918 New York: Leo-Feist Inc. Source 12: I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier, Al Piantadosi (music), Alfred Bryan (words), ©1915 New York: Leo-Feist Inc.

Performance Note: Although this work is an oratorio, if desired, the vocal soloists could each wear a costume. The tenor soloist (the soldier) might wear some military clothing that identifies him as a present-day soldier. The soprano, alto and baritone soloists could be dressed as present-day travelers. One suggested prop might be a box of different pieces of sheet music. The soldier could hand sheet music to the soloists at various points in the action. A more elaborately staged version in which the singers have room to interact and move about would be also a possibility, but it is understood that the number of performers on stage might seriously limit this approach. Stage directions in the score (for example, "the travelers enter,") are to be modified when necessary. 

© John Carbon 2015