Centuries of Sound on Cambridge 105 Radio – Episode 22 (1914)


Time: 8pm BST, Saturday 25th April 2020

Place: Cambridge 105 Radio

James Errington takes you on another trip into the ancient history of recorded sound, this time joined by Cambridge native Liam Higgins to review the music scene on both sides of the Atlantic in 1914, the year the lights famously went out all over Europe. This episode includes for the first (and hopefully the last) time, your hosts actually singing. Sorry.

You can’t listen to the show on 105fm in Cambridge, on DAB digital nationwide, on the Cambridge 105 website here, or on any good radio apps, because it’s already gone out, however you can still play it below or – even better! – sign up to my patreon for the radio podcast.

The Great War

the great war

The 1964 BBC TV Series The Great War may sometimes feel a bit hokey and outdated in its narrative style, but with the centenary over and done with, it looks like its position is still unchallenged as the definitive documentary of the conflict. Beyond anything else, it’s priceless in its collection of original accounts from men who were then barely of pensionable age, and therefore still are able to vividly recount their experiences. You can’t help but wonder what they made of the rest of the 60s.

The whole thing is available now on Youtube. Here is the first episode.

The entire playlist of 26 episodes plus bonus features is here.

1914 in Art

Giorgio de Chirico - The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Giorgio de Chirico – The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

August Macke - Farewell

August Macke – Farewell

Swiss Cottage exhibited 1914 by Stanislawa De Karlowska 1876-1952

Stanisława de Karłowska – Swiss Cottage

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Potsdamer Platz

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Potsdamer Platz

Giacomo Balla - Mercurio transita davanti al sole

Giacomo Balla – Mercurio transita davanti al sole

Franz Marc - Animals in a Landscape

Franz Marc – Animals in a Landscape

Fernand Léger – Nature morte (Still life)

Fernand Léger – Nature morte (Still life)

Pablo Picasso - Ma Jolie

Pablo Picasso – Ma Jolie

Oskar Kokoschka – The Bride of the Wind

Oskar Kokoschka – The Bride of the Wind

Albert Gleizes – Woman with animals (Madame Raymond Duchamp-Villon)

Albert Gleizes – Woman with animals (Madame Raymond Duchamp-Villon)

The Mud Bath 1914 by David Bomberg 1890-1957

David Bomberg – The Mud Bath

Ennui c.1914 by Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942

Walter Sickert – Ennui

Henri Matisse – Woman on a High Stool.jpg

Henri Matisse – Woman on a High Stool

André Derain - Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper

André Derain – Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper

Stanley Spencer – Self-portrait

Stanley Spencer – Self-portrait

August Macke - Kairouan (III) (watercolor)

August Macke – Kairouan (III) (watercolor)

Giorgio de Chirico - The Song of Love

Giorgio de Chirico – The Song of Love

1914 in Film


His Musical Career


Gertie the Dinosaur


Fantômas Contre Fantômas


Salomy Jane


His Prehistoric Past


The Patchwork Girl of Oz


The Magic Cloak of Oz


His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz




Judith of Bethulia




Mabel’s Strange Predicament


Bathing Costumes


In the Land of the Head Hunters


Tillie’s Punctured Romance




Mabel at the Wheel


The Avenging Conscience




The Virginian

Nigel Jones – Peace and War: Britain in 1914

Peace and war.jpg

So, I have bought this book, but unfortunately have not had time to read it. Sorry Nigel Jones, it does look good. If I have time later this year I’ll return here to write something about it.

Nigel Jones – Peace and War: Britain in 1914

The Christmas Truce & The Football Match

Artists impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915

One of the most widely-known stories of the first world war is the Christmas truce. The British soldiers hear the Germans singing ‘Silent Night’, they venture out into no-man’s land, exchange gifts and have a game of football. Much of this story appears to be true, though it is important to remember that the front was long, and the truce only took place in certain sections. There is less in the record about games of football, but there is at least a little evidence for this too.

Here is an excellent video / podcast from Dr Iain Adams at the British National Archives, going into a fair amount of detail about the truce.

And here is an episode of Stuff You Missed In History Class on the truce, usual provisos about excessive advertising there.

Um, Merry Christmas everyone! It’s going to be 1920 this Christmas, so it probably couldn’t wait.

1914 Day By Day

day by day

As part of their BBC WW1 Centenary commemorations, this excellent series covered events as they occurred, exactly 100 years in the past. And then, after 49 days, they stopped, which is a huge shame all round. I want this to be a permanent feature.

Here are the 49 episodes of 1914 Day By Day.

Mark Bostridge – The Fateful Year: England 1914

Mark Bostridge The Fateful Year England 1914

The date was Bank Holiday Monday, 3 August 1914, and it was destined to be a day of final, irrevocable and fateful decision. Even as the camera shutter fell, preserving this carefree scene, the larger issues of peace and war continued to hang in the balance… Nearly thirty-six hours later, Britain would declare war on Germany. Life for many of the men and women on this river excursion would never be the same again.

Having been through a fair few of these books about years, this is the first one which has completely lived up to my expectations, but strangely enough it’s by having a narrow, selective focus that it manages to provide the wide scope it aims for. Each chapter tells a story from the time, ranging from national news to private affairs, and from the leaders of the country to its most lowly inhabitants. Woven through this is an incessant drumbeat of approaching disaster. The way Mark Bostridge weaves this  element into the fabric of the piece seems a little counter-intuitive, an odd way to capture the supposed innocence of these times, but these memories are already stained by what happened, and the examination of those stains is, after all, why we are here.

Mark Bostridge – The Fateful Year: England 1914

Martha, The Last Passenger Pigeon


On September 1st 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon in existence died. Three hundred years before, when the first settlers were arriving in North America, it was the most common bird in the continent, with up to 5 billion individuals. The story of the passenger pigeon is that of colonial destruction and contempt for the natural world writ large, and a reminder that for all the horrors taking place in Europe, mankind was already wreaking destruction of various kinds.

Here is an excellent episode of The Memory Palace on passenger pigeons

And here is a slightly less excellent video, for those who are inclined that way

37 Days

37 days

The sudden slide from the tranquil Indian summer of the Edwardian age into a state of chaos previously inconceivable is quite the tale, but telling it has always been hard. It’s not only that it’s a complicated story, it’s that much of the work in piecing together what happened was done well after the events themselves, and even when you see these pieces, none of it seems to fit. There is naturally a bias at play – we know where these foolish actions and reactions would end – but even so, believing that supposedly rational human beings in charge of powerful countries could let all this happen, it all seems somehow wrong.

It’s a great credit to the makers of 37 Days that they managed to weave all of this together into a piece of work which pulls these characters into suddenly clear focus – from Ian McDiarmid’s Edward Grey, the sanest man in the room who puts too much faith in the forces of reason, to Rainer Sellien’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, pandered to by competing officials, all keen to make him feel that their plan is his plan.

37 Days can be bought on DVD here, or you can just watch it on Dailymotion

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