Music is indeed one of the most dynamic elements of art. It draws its inspiration from a myriad of factors that range from economical, social, cultural and even political. In many occasions, the quality of music mainly relies on the inspiration that the piece is drawn from. This essay aims to explore the Civil War and the World War I as sources of inspiration for music composers during these eras and how these composers interpreted the wartime events into their works of music.
During the civil war, music was extensively used to inspire loyalty among the fighting troops. Composers used the real life experiences of soldiers who had fought for either side that is the Union or the Confederates to write poetic music. The American Civil war came along with multitude of different emotions that included patriotism, martial pride, homesickness, death, love hope and loneliness. The composers of this era relied heavily on these aspects to formulate music compositions. This is the major reason why the music of the Civil War possesses distinct echoes of the multitude of emotions stated above. However, one thing that stands out is that the music of this era mainly provided a more humanistic approach to and the understanding of the American Civil War. Composers like Henry Russell were able to incorporate war elements from this conflict to come up with exemplary compositions that appealed to large masses form both sides of the conflict.
The events of the World War I were also adequately interpreted into music by the composer’s of that era. This war was particularly very significant because it was the first war that the United States had been involved in since the end of the Civil War. Unlike the Civil War where the compositions depicted a more humanistic approach in the understanding of the specific conflict, the music of this era was chaotic just like the war itself. Composers incorporated the feelings of thousands who abhorred this warfare and the music therefore exhibited frightening, disturbing and unstructured characteristics. The composer’s essentially interpreted the view of the society into their compositions which served as a constant reminder of the impact that the war had had on the entire globe.
Cornelius, Steven. Music of the Civil War Era. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print.
Wood, Jeffrey.”Music of World War I", The Encyclopedia of World War I, pp. 823–825