Virginia students bring 100-year-old World War I sheet music back to life
By Caroline Newman
via the University of Virginia UVAToday web site
Note: The University of Virginia was in the national spotlight this month for becoming the National Champions of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. We are thrilled for them -- and we were also thrilled to find out that they have a special World War I-related project underway at their campus!—Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
The World War I-era sheet music housed in the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collection Library should feel old, by most measures.
It was composed more than 100 years ago for a massive war fought not with nuclear power or cyberweapons, but in the trenches, with bullets, bombs and millions of men. It was heard not through earbuds or stereo speakers, but in parlor music concerts and over the radio, a new technology that was only just beginning to make its way into American homes. Some of the music’s themes – including the songs’ characterizations of women and references to white supremacy – now appear out-of-touch, troubling or offensive.
And yet, students in assistant dean and assistant professor of music Elizabeth Ozment’s “ReSounding the Archives” course – most of them born more than 80 years after the war began – found plenty to relate to as they listened to, analyzed and help recreate the century-old songs.
“I was expecting the music to feel a bit foreign to the students, but they really searched out pieces that reflected their own personalities and intellectual interests, and made so many connections to contemporary politics and culture,” Ozment said.
Ozment and her students were part of an ongoing collaborative project, also called “ReSounding the Archives,” between UVA, Virginia Tech and George Mason University, funded by 4-VA, a collaborative partnership among six Virginia universities. Students from each school researched and analyzed World War I songs from UVA’s archives, and George Mason students recorded studio versions and even traveled to UVA to perform in a live “parlor concert” in front of a packed house in UVA’s Garden Room.
Read the entire article on the University of Virginia web site.
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