Today, November 11th, is Veteran's Day.
Directly across the street from our house is Pershing Field, a park named in honor of General John "Black Jack" Pershing (1860 – 1948), the leading American military figure in World War One. Pershing Field has long been known as a place that commemorates Jersey City veterans who have given their lives in the wars - from WWI, all the way up through the Vietnam War. These dead are honored by small headstones that are set along the walkways in the park.
Several years ago, I noticed that one of the headstones was broken. The concrete corner had broken away on one side. I went to see the name on the stone, and was immediately struck by what I saw - WILLIAM SPAHR MUSICIAN 312 INF. DIED IN FRANCE 1918 AGE 22. (See attached photo.) As Veteran's Day was almost upon us, I thought to do an upload to honor musicians who had fallen in the war - but what piece to upload?
I found the song, "In Flanders Fields" and decided that this would be my upload. It is based upon the famous poem, written in 1915, by John McCrae (1872-1918), Canadian poet, physician and soldier, who died of pneumonia near the end of the war. The music is by Percy Hilder Miles (1872-1922), and English composer, conductor and violinist. Written as a typical "artsong," I quickly discovered that it did NOT translate easily to an organ solo. I'd do it the next year...
So, not 1, but 2 years later, this is the result.
For the organ, St. Omer was the obvious choice, as the cathedral stands right in the heart of Flanders.
In order to listen to the piece, I really do encourage you to look at the score. Listening alone, you won't know just what's what, and may think of this is an "awkward" organ solo.
I dedicate this upload to the memory of William Spahr, Musician, 312th Infantry...
The score and a number of interesting photos are attached as well as the full text of the poem in the 1st comment.