And the band played on: How music lifted the Anzac spirit in the battlefields of the First World War
‘At last we know how the Great War sounded.’ Professor Peter Stanley, joint winner of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History Imagine Australian life back in the first decade of the 20th century, when playing the piano, singing, performing or reciting poetry were all staples of family life. When the men of this young nation marched off to war a typical call was: ‘Are you a singing man?’ ‘Can you spin a funny yarn?’ Impromptu entertainments, sing-a-longs, storytelling and recitations were all part of a homespun repertoire that accompanied these men to war. And the Band Played On pays homage to that camaraderie, and the spontaneous entertainment that lifted the spirits of the ANZACs – whether they were on board battleships, under the shadow of the pyramids, in the trenches, recuperating in hospitals or even interned in POW camps. Robert Holden is a historian, curator and author of more than thirty books. He has been awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Literature Board of the Australia.
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