Music of the First World War

by Don Tyler


A World War I general once stated that it was just as important for a soldier to sing as to carry a weapon.

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March 2016


Pages 283
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
  American History/Culture
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This book discusses WWI-era music in a historical context, explaining music's importance at home and abroad during WWI as well as examining what music was being sung, played, and danced to during the years prior to America's involvement in the Great War.

Why was music so important to soldiers abroad during World War I? What role did music—ranging from classical to theater music, rags, and early jazz—play on the American homefront? Music of the First World War explores the tremendous importance of music during the years of the Great War—when communication technologies were extremely limited and music often took the place of connecting directly with loved ones or reminiscing via recorded images.

The book's chapters cover music's contribution to the war effort; the variety of war-related songs, popular hits, and top recording artists of the war years; the music of Broadway shows and other theater productions; and important composers and lyricists. The author also explores the development of the fledgling recording industry at this time.


  • Provides an excellent resource for students investigating music during the First World War as well as for adults interested in WWI-era history or music of the pre-twenties
  • Documents the variety of reasons songs were sung by soldiers in wartime—to cheer themselves up, boost courage, poke fun at or stimulate hatred of their enemies, or express grievances or protest against the war or against authority
  • Covers stage music of the WWI era, including music hall (British), vaudeville, revues, operettas, and musicals
Author Info

Don Tyler is a retired music professor from the College of Central Florida in Ocala, FL. He has more than two dozen choral compositions and/or arrangements published by various publishing companies. Tyler is author of Hit Parade 1920–1955: An Encyclopedia of the Top Songs of the Jazz, Depression, Swing, and Sing Eras; Hit Songs, 1900–1955: American Popular Music of the Pre-Rock Era; The Great Movie Musicals: A Viewer's Guide to 168 Films That Really Sing; and Music of the Post-War Era. He has also contributed to Facts Behind the Songs: A Handbook of American Popular Music from the Nineties to the '90s and Popular Musicians.



"This is a rich resource for specialized music and American-history collections."—Booklist, Starred Review

"The short descriptions, links to online resources, and citation data for sheet music provide a needed starting point. Recommended for music, college, and public libraries celebrating the First World War Centenary."—ARBA

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