skip to main content
caption: 'Gassed' by American painter John Singer Sargent. 
    Slideshow Icon 2 slides
Enlarge Icon
'Gassed' by American painter John Singer Sargent.
Credit: Public Domain

What Music Can Teach Us About The Lasting Impact Of WWI

How can we make sense of the staggering history of loss -- loss of reason, life, and hope for the future -- represented by World War I?

In 2014 University of Washington professor Robin McCabe launched a three-part series of concerts with accompanying lectures to explore that question through music. The theme, inspired by the centenary of the start of World War I, was “Music From The War To End All Wars.” Speakers Forum aired Part I, featuring a talk by UW dean Robert Stacey, this past January.

Part II of the series presents a talk by UW professor Ronald Moore titled “Music In The Silentness Of Duty; Peace Where The Shell-Storms Sprouted Red.”

Moore teaches in the department of philosophy and is a former director of the UW Center for the Humanities. You may also recognize him as the person who, in his role as University Marshal, carried the mace at UW commencements and convocations for 19 years. Moore calls himself “someone who is fond of beauty and goodness.” That notion becomes highly evident in this talk.

In the concert portion UW School of Music students, led by McCabe, performed works by Bela Bartók, Sergei Prokofiev and Maurice Ravel. McCabe says of the series:

“World War I was to be, it was hoped, the ‘war to end all wars.’ The irony of this innocent resolution is not lost on us today. And if the past can ‘inform’ the present, and even enlighten the potentials of our future, then I think this concert series had an important and enduring impact on our student performers, our faculty speakers, and our audiences.”

The University of Washington presented this talk and concert at The Brechemin Auditorium on March 8, 2014. Many thanks to the performers and to Mr. Gary Louie for this recording.