The Drums Of Battle

Christopher Cook presents a six-part series exploring the influence of war and conflict on music, from the Crusades to the Second World War.


01The Crusades1999042020000821

The bloodshed of the 11th century and the slaughter inflicted upon the Holy Land in the name of religion inspired many troubadours, including Richard I, to write laments.

02The Thirty Years War1999042720000828

Between 1618 and 1648, the biggest and most brutal European conflict before the two world wars brought about a time of sorrow and hardship. The music of the period reflected the suffering - Lutheran chorales were used to spread propaganda and news.

03The Ancient Greeks And Romans - Baroque Heroes1999050420000904

Frills, foppery and big wigs were the order of the day amongst 18th-century aristocracy, as well as a fascination for stories and myths set in ancient times.

Italian opera was flourishing and Handel's music drew the hordes to London's theatres.

04The Napoleonic Wars1999051120000911

Beethoven dedicated his third symphony - `Eroica' - to his hero Napoleon, only to retract it in disgust when he crowned himself emperor. Christopher Cook discovers the extent of Napoleon's influence on 19th-century composers.

05World War I1999051820000918

The reaction to the First World War by British composers was initially that of shock. Many of them were in the trenches, while some were killed in action. Their horror and deep sorrow can be heard in their music. The composers include Gurney, Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Bridge and Butterworth.

06 LASTWorld War Ii1999052520000925

After 1945, music history as well as world history had turned a corner and the stage was set for the avant-garde. Composers discussed include Walton, Britten and Tippett.