Mr Brennan has unearthed newspapers from the time which describe the match as “international” and report that it attracted 20,000 spectators. The Lord Mayor of Belfast kicked off the match which, as was common for the time, was held in aid of war charities.
This isn’t a gif from a fiction movie – it’s actual footage from the first world war which has been cleaned up, extra frames added to bring it up to 26 per second, and then colorised. It’s the kind of thing which sets new standards for how we can use original sources to bring the past to life, something which Centuries of Sound obviously is in favour of. The scenes towards the end with the worst effects of the war are so shocking and visceral that I can’t imagine I’ll ever forget them.
The film, directed by Peter Jackson, is not perfect. I liked very much how it operated entirely on the personal level of the soldiers, but inevitably this led to a nagging feeling that there was a lot being missed. This is something which cannot be helped, though, and as far as two-hour documentaries about the war go, it’s surely unsurpassable.
The first and easily the most accessible of Joyce’s three novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man tells the story of the early life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictionalized version of Joyce who will later appear in Ulysses. Cut down from a gigantic experimental autobiography, the work took Joyce the best part of 15 years, so you may be surprised to find how readable it is, especially if you have previously attempted to read his other novels.
The death of Grigori Rasputin, the infamous “Mad Monk” of Russia is the stuff of weird history legend. The story passed down by his assassin (and mentioned in the less accurate account given by Boney M in the mid 1970s) is as follows
Yusupov began to panic as Rasputin appeared to consume enough cyanide to kill scores of men. As Rasputin started to have some difficulty swallowing his wine, Yusupov feigned concern and asked Rasputin if he was feeling ill…
…Soon, however, Rasputin appeared to recover and become more energetic. Fearing that the poison had failed, Yusupov stood up and paced the room to work up the nerve to shoot Rasputin… Yusupov pulled out the revolver and firing one shot, hitting Rasputin in the chest. Rasputin cried out and collapsed onto the floor, where he laid in a growing pool of blood but did not move… The doctor checked for Rasputin’s pulse and found none, confirming that Rasputin was dead, shot close enough to his heart to be immediately fatal…
Rasputin’s body laid motionless exactly where they had left it, but Yusupov wanted to be sure. He shook the body and didn’t see any signs of life — at first. Then, Rasputin’s eyelids started to twitch, just before Rasputin opened them. “I then saw both eyes,” Yusupov wrote, “the green eyes of a viper – staring at me with an expression of diabolical hatred.” Rasputin lunged at Yusupov, snarling like an animal and digging his fingers into Yusupov’s neck…
Purishkevich was the first out the door, and he immediately fired two shots at the fleeing Rasputin. He missed, but then Purishkevich chased down the wounded Rasputin and from just feet away, fired two more shots. One of the shots struck Rasputin in the head, inflicting a killing blow, and Rasputin collapsed to the ground. Yusupov had two loyal servants wrap Rasputin’s body in heavy carpets and tied with heavy chains. The conspirators then brought the body to a bridge over the Neva River and dumped it into an unfrozen patch of water below.
This documentary has the standard telling of his final hours
With the hundredth anniversary of his death, however, questions have inevitably arisen. First this BBC documentary, which alleges that the assassination was the work of rogue British secret service agents:
Rasputin’s actual murder was probably far less dramatic. His daughter Maria, who fled Russia after the Revolution and became a circus lion tamer billed as “the daughter of the famous mad monk whose feats in Russia astonished the world,” wrote her own book in 1929 that condemned Yussupov’s actions and questioned the veracity of his account. She wrote that her father did not like sweets and never would have eaten a platter of cakes. The autopsy reports do not mention poison or drowning but instead conclude that he was shot in the head at close range. Yussupov transformed the murder into an epic struggle of good versus evil to sell books and bolster his own reputation.
After my very mixed feelings about the DW Griffith’s beautiful, appalling racist epic The Birth of a Nation, I was keen to check out the next film he made, Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages. I’d heard that it was made to address the divisions caused by the controversial release of The Birth of a Nation, including the resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan. But it seems that I may have misunderstood DWG’s intentions.
Intolerance is supposedly about the scourge of intolerance throughout the ages – only the focus (if there is one) seems to be on closer analysis of intolerances perpetrated against the ideas and prejudices of one DW Griffith. The right to make a racist film without criticism, the right to follow a more puritanical religion, and so on. You may have a hard time actually picking these out of the immense scope of the thing, but as far as a moral core goes, I’m afraid it may be a rotten one.
Otherwise I’m left with two impressions. Firstly that the whole thing is visually absolutely stunning. The scenes in ancient Babylon in particular are some of the most ambitious I’ve seen in any era – and bearing in mind how everything needed to be constructed in real life, the achievement here is undeniable. Griffith also seems to have developed his editing style a fair amount in the year between productions, and some sections were clearly influential. That is, if you can find them. Because this is a long, long film, and what plot there is is impossible to follow.
A lot of this is due to the convoluted story of the film’s production. DWG started off shooting a film about a strike at a mill, in which the villains are not just the mill owners but also the moral puritans driving the strikers. After showing this to his friends in the industry he decided this was too slight to be the follow-up to the biggest film of all time and started shooting another three segments – one in ancient Babylon, one about Jesus’s crucifixion and one about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestant Huguenots in France.
Intolerance is therefore four films, woven together over three and a half hours of screen time. Most of the characters (and there are a lot of these) are unnamed, and the connection between the stories is highly tenuous. I’m not sure if my attention span has been destroyed by mobile phones and having small children, but it was very difficult to follow one strand, let alone four. This also seems to have been the opinion of contemporary audiences, who did not flock to the cinema as they had previously. The film barely broke even, and DWG’s career never really recovered. In the last century, however, the film has had a critical renaissance – writers who do not want to say anything nice about BOAN have instead flocked to lavish praise on it. Armond White, for example, described it as “The Greatest Movie Ever Made” in the National Review, an opinion which is clearly incorrect. More recently parallels have been drawn between the concept of “intolerance” as demonstrated in the film and the debating tactics of the alt-right, where intolerance of racism is presented as a greater crime than racism itself.
My take is this: it’s another beautiful, awful film, only this time it’s more beautiful, and also really, really confusing.
Audio historian DJ James Errington takes you on another time travel adventure, this time to hear some original sounds from 1907, including some wonderful stuff from Enrico Caruso, a few original vaudeville routines and some very premature Christmas cheer.
Listen to the show on 105fm in Cambridge, on DAB digital nationwide, on the Cambridge 105 website here, or on any good radio apps – or, as it’s too late to do any of these things, just stream it below.
January 8 – Woodrow Wilson delivers his Fourteen Points speech
January 27 – The Finnish Civil War begins with the Battle of Kämärä
February 1 – Austrian sailors in the Gulf of Cattaro, led by two Czech Socialists, mutiny
February 6 – The Representation of the People Act gives most women over 30 the vote in the UK
February 16 – The Council of Lithuania adopts the Act of Independence of Lithuania, declaring Lithuania’s independence from Russia
February 19 – The Capture of Jericho by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force begins the British occupation of the Jordan Valley
February 19-25 – The Imperial Russian Navy evacuates Tallinn through thick ice, over the Gulf of Finland
February 24 – Estonia declares its independence from Russia, after seven centuries of foreign rule. German forces capture Tallinn the following day
March 3 – The Central Powers and Russia sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending Russia’s involvement in WW1
March 8 – The Battle of Tell ‘Asur is launched by units of the British Army’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force against Ottoman defences
March 21 – The Spring Offensive by the German Army begins with Operation Michael – there are nearly 20,000 British Army dead on the first day
March 23 – In London at the Wood Green Empire, Chung Ling Soo (William E. Robinson, U.S.-born magician) dies during his trick, where he is supposed to catch two bullets when one of them perforates his lung
March 23 – The giant German cannon, the ‘Paris Gun’, begins to shell Paris from 114 km away
March 26 – Dr. Marie Stopes publishes her influential book Married Love in the U.K
March 27 – The First Battle of Amman is launched by units of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force
March 30 – Bolshevik and Armenian Revolutionary Federation forces suppress a Muslim revolt in Baku, Azerbaijan, resulting in up to 30,000 deaths
April 5 – Sālote succeeds as Queen of Tonga – she will remain on the throne until her death in 1965
April 21 – Manfred von Richthofen, ‘The Red Baron’, dies in combat at Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme River
April 23 – A general strike is held in Ireland against conscription
April 23 – The British Navy raids Zeebrugge and Ostend, attempting to seal off the German U-boat bases there
April 28 – Gavrilo Princip, assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, dies in Terezin, Austria-Hungary, after three years in prison
May 11 – The Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus is officially established
May 26 – Georgia declares its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia.
May 28 – Armenia and Azerbaijan declare their independence as the First Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
May 29 – The Battle of Sardarabad concludes with defending Armenian forces victorious over the Ottomans.
June – The ‘Spanish ‘flu’ becomes pandemic. Over 30 million people die in the following 6 months.
June 1 – The Battle of Belleau Wood begins.
June 10 – Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship SMS Szent István is sunk by two Italian MAS motor torpedo boats off the Dalmatian coast.
June 12 – Grand Duke Michael of Russia is killed, becoming the first of the Romanovs to be executed by the Bolsheviks.
July 3 – The Siberian Intervention is launched by the Allies, to extract the Czechoslovak Legion from the Russian Civil War
July 4 – Mehmed VI succeeds as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire on the death of his half-brother Mehmed V
July 9 – In Nashville, Tennessee, an inbound local train collides with an outbound express, killing 101.
July 12 – Japanese battleship Kawachi blows up off Tokuyama, killing at least 621
July 15 – The Second Battle of the Marne begins near the River Marne, with a German attack
July 17 – By order of the Bolshevik Party, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Alexei and retainers are shot at the Ipatiev House, in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
August 2 – British anti-Bolshevik forces occupy Arkhangelsk in North Russia.
August 8 – British, Canadian and Australian troops begin a string of almost continuous victories, the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, with an 8-mile push through the German front lines at the Battle of Amiens, taking 12,000 prisoners.
August 21 – The Second Battle of the Somme begins
August 27 – U.S. Army forces skirmish against Mexican Carrancistas and their German advisors at Nogales, Arizona, in the only battle of WWI fought on United States soil.
September 3 – The Bolshevik government of Russia publishes the first official announcement of the Red Terror, a period of repression against political opponents, as an ‘Appeal to the Working Class’ in the newspaper Izvestia
September 4 –The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin concludes with the Australian Corps breaking the German line.
September 15–18 – At The Battle of Dobro Pole, The Allied Army of the Orient defeats Bulgarian defenders.
September 19 – The British Army launches the Battle of Megiddo, an attack in the Judaean Mountains, which breaks the Ottoman front line stretching from the Mediterranean coast to the Judaean Mountains.
September 26 – The Meuse-Argonne Offensive begins, the largest and bloodiest operation of the war for the American Expeditionary Forces.
September 27 – The Battle of the Canal du Nord, launched by British and Empire forces, continues the advance towards the Hindenburg Line.
September 29 – The Battle of St Quentin Canal begins – Allied forces advance towards the Hindenburg Line
October 3 – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany appoints Max von Baden Chancellor of Germany.
October 7 – The Regency Council declares Polish independence from the German Empire, and demands that Germany cede the Polish provinces of Poznań, Upper Silesia and Polish Pomerania
October 8–10 – British and Canadian troops take Cambrai from the Germans and the First and Third British Armies break through the Hindenburg Line
October 18 – The Washington Declaration proclaims the independent Czechoslovak Republic
October 31 – The Hungarian government terminates the personal union with Austria, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian Empire
November 1 – The Polish–Ukrainian War is inaugurated, by the proclamation of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic in Galicia, with a capital at Lwów.
November 1 – The worst rapid transit accident in world history occurs under the intersection of Malbone Street and Flatbush Avenue, in Brooklyn, New York City, with at least 93 dead
November 3 – Austria-Hungary enters an armistice with the Allies, at the Villa Giusti in Padua
November 9 – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicates and chooses to live in exile in the Netherlands. The German Republic is proclaimed by Philipp Scheidemann in Berlin, on the Reichstag balcony
November 11 – Emperor Charles I of Austria gives up his absolute power, but does not abdicate
November 11 – Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies, between 5:12 AM and 5:20 AM, in Marshal Foch’s railroad car, in the Forest of Compiègne in France. It becomes official on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month
November 21 – Polish troops, volunteers and freed criminals massacre at least 320 Ukrainian Christians and Jews in Lwów, Galicia
November 28 – The Red Army invades Estonia, starting the Estonian War of Independence
December 1 – Following the March 27 incorporation of Bessarabia and Bucovina, Transylvania unites with the Kingdom of Romania
December 1 – Iceland regains independence, but remains in personal union with the King of Denmark, who also becomes the King of Iceland until 1944
December 28 – Sinn Féin wins wins 73 of the 105 seats in the Irish General Election. Countess Constance Markievicz, while detained in Holloway Prison (London), becomes the first woman elected to (but does not take her seat in) the British House of Commons.
Centuries of Sound is a monthly mix of original recordings from a single year. If you want higher bitrate downloads, a bonus podcast with discussion of the recordings, extra bonus mixes and much more, please support me on Patreon for just $5 per month, and keep the project ad-free.
One of the most jarring contrasts between imagined past and time as uncovered by these mixes is the feel of the First World War years. There are two very good reasons for this. Firstly, it shouldn’t be forgotten that our impressions of the wartime years, having dropped out of living memory, are based on a limited number of sources, most of which are second or third-hand reinterpretations. Even the most relevant cultural artifacts – written accounts of the war, contemporary films, photographs – do not contain any record of the sounds of the time, and even the best documentaries seem to focus on the images and either create their own audio or use recorded accounts from years later.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, we shouldn’t forget that the lens these mixes view the decade through are a very narrow one indeed. I cannot present recordings of the war because, to put it plainly, there are none. The last thing anyone, even a war journalist, was thinking of doing was taking a recording gramophone out into the trenches. In any case, the recording industry was still located mainly within New York, with a small number of people controlling what was put out. We don’t even have a decent view of the rest of the USA, let alone the rest of the world. European recordings are at this point few and far between.
Having made my excuses, this mix nevertheless probably presents the closest thing to an original-source First World War soundscape that has ever existed. The entrance of the USA into the war in 1917 may not have resulted in any actual recordings of the war, but at least it meant many more recordings about the war – and even if these were filtered through the cynical filter of the entertainment business, they still provide much more of a flavour of the times than anything else we’ve had so far. Naturally we have some more of the patriotic anthems intended to act as much as propaganda than as entertainment, including a wartime update of ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ from Marion Harris and a jingoistic song from Al Jolson. These aren’t all we have though – there is a very measured speech from Theodore Roosevelt, wartime soundscapes from Henry Burr, and humourous wartime songs from Arthur Fields.
Fields is new to us, but he had been in the entertainment business for decades. touring in minstrel shows, writing songs and working in a trio with Jack and Irving Kaufman. His wartime songs, though still patriotic, look at the mundanity and inconvenience of wartime life through the eyes of the average soldier – a smart move, as they would be arriving back from Europe just about now. Arthur Fields would continue to record right into the next world war.
Meanwhile, Jazz has sort of taken a back seat, slightly. The explosion of 1917 was clearly unsustainable, especially as it consisted largely of a set of pros imitating the life out of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band without any real understanding of what they were starting. In 1918 jazz is still around, only the heat has been let out a little. Seasoned musicians are starting to return to what they know; the light dance music which had always paid their wages. This will be a theme for the next few years, jazz being swallowed up into the more rigid, un-blue world of professional dance bands.
The exception to this is from two bands – one of course the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, still going strong in 1918, though they would soon lose their original piano player to the Spanish flu. In even more of an imperial phase however are their erstwhile rivals, variously known as “The Novelty Orchestra” “The Celebrated Society Orchestra” and “Earl Fuller’s Combination Seven,” but captured here as “Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra.” Where the ODJB are raucous and comic, Earl Fuller’s band are anarchic in a more transgressive, darkly sexual way, and at times their music anticipates the dangerous speakeasy feeling of early Duke Ellington. It’s a welcome dash of colour in a musical world which is trending back to its default conservatism.
The jazz revolution is, on the whole, slowing down, becoming a little too safe, but there’s no need to worry – we will soon be in for quite the ride. If you thought 1917 was a massive shift then just wait – the decade between 1918 and 1928 sees more of a change in what we’ll hear than any other decade I can think of. So I’m not sure anyone will particularly miss these sounds when we’ve moved on, but this is still a moment which deserves to be remembered.
0:00:17 Charles Ross Taggart – Uncle Zed Buys a Graphophone (Excerpt 1)
0:00:30 Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra – Russian Rag
0:03:35 Charles Ross Taggart – Uncle Zed Buys a Graphophone (Excerpt 2)
0:04:12 Original Dixieland Jass Band – At the Jazz Band Ball
0:06:49 Wilbur Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Dallas Blues
0:09:56 Rector Novelty Orchestra – Singapore
0:13:16 Nora Bayes – Regretful Blues
0:14:50 J.J. Pershing – Address From France, April 1918
0:15:19 Arthur Fields – Yanks Started Yanking
0:16:19 Premier Quartet and Company – A Submarine Attack (Excerpt 1)
0:16:42 Al Jolson – Tell That To The Marines
0:18:06 Henry Burr & Peerless Quartet – Submarine Attack Somewhere At Sea (Excerpt 1)
0:18:20 Marion Harris – Goodbye Alexander
0:21:42 Henry Burr & Lt Gitz Rice – Life In A Trench In Belgium (Excerpt 1)
0:21:57 Arthur Collins – When Tony Goes Over The Top
0:23:26 Henry Burr & Lt Gitz Rice – Life In A Trench In Belgium (Excerpt 2)
0:23:56 Arthur Fields – Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning
0:26:35 Henry Burr & Peerless Quartet – Submarine Attack Somewhere At Sea (Excerpt 2)
0:27:03 Imperial Marimba Band – General Pershing March
0:27:33 Premier Quartet and Company – A Submarine Attack (Excerpt 2)
0:27:41 The Peerless Quartet – Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye Soldier Boy
0:29:50 Thomas Alva Edison – Let Us Not Forget – A Message to the American People (Excerpt 1)
0:30:20 Harry Lauder – Don’t Let Us Sing Anymore About War
0:32:24 Thomas Alva Edison – Let Us Not Forget – A Message to the American People (Excerpt 2
0:32:52 Courtland And Jeffries – Good-Bye-Ee
0:35:28 Metropolitan Military Band – Grand Peace Record
0:36:18 Honey Land Jazz Band – Steve
0:38:07 Monroe Silver – Cohen on his Honeymoon (Excerpt 1)
0:38:16 Wilbur Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Ev’rybody’s Crazy ‘Bout the Doggone Blues But I’m Happy
0:41:07 Monroe Silver – Cohen on his Honeymoon (Excerpt 2)
0:41:17 Joseph C Smith’s Orchestra – Rose Room
0:42:59 Eugene Jaudas Society Orchestra – Howdy One Step
0:44:42 Billy Murray – K-K-K Katy
0:47:25 Ethel C. Olson – A Norwegian Woman Using the Telephone
0:47:35 Bohumir Kryl – Where The River Shannon Flows
0:49:31 Marika Papagika – Smyrneiko Minore
0:52:13 Zabelle Panosian – Groung (Crane)
0:56:18 Amelita GalliCurci – Crepuscule
0:59:14 Roland Hayes – Arioso from ‘Pagliacci’ (‘Vesti la giubba’)
1:01:52 Theodore Roosevelt – Right Of The People To Rule (Excerpt 1)
1:02:32 Sexteto Habanero Godínez – Rosa, que linda eres
1:04:12 Pixinguinha – Os Oito Batutas
1:05:39 Fercor – La Commemorazione Di Cesare Battisti A Milano (Excerpt 1)
1:05:45 Orquesta De Enrique – El Biberon De Benitin
1:07:59 Yerkes’ Jazarimba Orchestra – Jazzie Addie
1:09:37 Theodore Roosevelt – Right Of The People To Rule (Excerpt 2)
1:09:50 Earl Fuller – Jazz De Luxe
1:13:52 Samuel Siegel & Marie Caveny – Ragtime Echoes
1:14:37 Pietro Frosini – New York Blues
1:16:16 Abe Schwartz Orchestra – Der Shtiller Bulgar
1:19:16 Harry Kandel’s Orchestra – Der Nicolaiver Bulgar
1:22:01 Eubie Blake Trio – Hungarian Rag
1:24:53 Bert Williams – Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting
1:27:32 Fercor – La Commemorazione Di Cesare Battisti A Milano (Excerpt 2)
1:27:55 Louisiana Five – Laughing Blues
1:30:35 Frisco Jazz Band – Johnson Jass Blues
1:34:47 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Skeleton Jangle
1:37:39 Maude Powell – Poupee Valsante (Waltzing Doll)
1:39:44 Charles Harrison – I’m Always Chasing Rainbows