After recording the CD “Songs of the Great War” I sent a copy to the German War Graves Commission; I was interested in finding out more about the composer of “Bald Allzubalde”. The old sheet music in which I found the song (dated 1917), said that he’d composed it on the 20th April, 1916 and died there on the 7th of June, 1916. They told me they would start a search, and incidentally, they liked my CD and performance and would I and Matt be interested in coming over and singing the song, and a couple more, at the hundredth anniversary commemoration of Verdun? Would we!
Here I think I should remind everyone what this extraordinary song sounds like:
And it uses accordion, guitar and clarinet on the CD! Well, two months ago, Arne Schrader of the Volksbund Kriegsgräberfürsorge contacted me to tell me that they have found him! He was buried nameless, as “E.B.” of the 39th Fusiliers. And they sent me the exhumation photos. I have never, ever had an experience like this! They positively identified him, and found that he had been buried with a clock. On the 27th of this month, I and Matt will go over there and with some Wandervogel, or Boy Scouts, lay a wreath on his grave, restore his name to him, and sing this song over him. As I say, amazing. Then the next day we will perform at the Romagne sous Montfaucon cemetery, where a Commonwealth, a German and a French section lie side by side, and a lone trumpeter will stand at each, and perform “Aux Morts,” “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden” and “The Last Post” in turn, and we will sing later in the ceremony. This story of Ernst Brockmann, young composer buried without a name, is one that I was certain that the radio would be all over. I have told as many producers as I can find, but no bites. Astonishing, really. If anyone knows anyone, please spread the word. I think this is a great story, and important.
We’ll be rushing from the Verdun battlefields to the Yorkshire Dales to demonstrate wax cylinder making…driving through the night!
I was also hugely honoured to be a living exhibit in the Edwardian Parlour that is in the TRULY BRILLIANT and UNMISSABLE exhibition “Remembering 1916” that is in South Croydon at the Whitgift School…seriously, GO. It is a fiver for seniors, seven quid for adults, next to nothing for students.
Open to the public from 10-5 daily. It has more rarities than I would have thought possible, and is put together with passion and no expense spared. Take a train from Victoria, and just go! Then I sang in the concert that opened the exhibition. That is one extraordinary school.
My CD “Songs of the Great War” has been reviewed by a major critical music journal, at long last (Well, you see, it’s not classical, and it’s not jazz, is it! Even Norman Lebrecht sympathised) But bless the American Record Guide, they DID review it. Read it HERE.
Oh! On the 26th of June I’ll be performing songs about the cinema with the Mighty Wurlitzer, at the Musical Museum in Kew! With, moreover, Donald MacKenzie at the console! Following me will be Laurel and Hardy’s “Angora Love”, Mack Sennett’s “Teddy at the Throttle” and Charlie Chaplin in “The Rink”, all with Wurlitzer accompaniment! Starting at 3pm. Do come along and say hello!
The Renaissance CD is all recorded, and all I’m waiting for is booklet text approval from my colleagues! I’ll announce when this beauty will be available! It’s tremendous fun, and will contain the bawdy Broadside Ballad “Watkins Ale”. And this song: