War Composers - the music of World War I

Welcome to WarComposers.co.uk, a site dedicated to retelling the stories of the generation of classical composers who fought in World War I.

We quite rightly hear a lot about the ‘war poets’ of World War I, but less well known are the war composers. Almost a whole generation of young composers volunteered to fight in the Great War, many whom did not survive or were permanently affected by that conflict.

George Butterworth's The Lads in Their Hundreds (British Library)

The site launched in August 2013 and aims to present a unified resource of biographies and related materials about the composers who fought in World War 1.

What's new?

As of April 2018, the latest article is about Sir George Dyson (1883-1964), who served on the Western Front. He later became the Director of Music for the newly-formed RAF in 1918, co-composing the RAF March Past and developing a musical tradition in the Air Force which lasts to the present day.

New in March 2018 is a biographical sketch of R.O. Morris (1886-1948). Although best-known as a counterpoint teacher of Gerald Finzi, Edmund Rubbra, Michael Tippett and many others, he was also a composer who, amongst many other works, completed a symphony in 1934. He joined up in August 1914 alongside George Butterworth and Geoffrey Toye. The article contains a list of published works by Morris.

The newest War Composers edition is Ernest Farrar's part-song "Margaritae Sorori" of 1916. This is one of a growing collection of short works by WW1 Composers available on the site. Another recent addition is George Butterworth's obscure choral setting of a folk song "We Get Up in the Morn" he collected with Ralph Vaughan Williams near Diss, Norfolk in 1911.

The War Composers blog features notes and queries on a few WWI composers about whom details are obscure, as well as a look at WWII composers.