Music in War Time

Marking the centenary of World War I mezzo-soprano Jacobine van Laar devised a special literary program with songs written by composers whose lives and works were deeply affected by destruction and loss of many loved ones. Several poets and composers actually fought in the trenches themselves and wrote some of the most poignantly beautiful poetry and music in English literary and musical history. 

The poet and composer Ivor Gurney, his friends William Harvey, George Butterworth and Herbert Howells play a central role in this program. All three grew up in their beloved Gloucestershire. Their works speak of longing for the beautiful Gloucester countryside and their loved ones left behind, thus pointing out the stark contrast with the situation they find themselves in. Jacobine van Laar have started the Music in War Time program in 2014, celebrating and marking Ivor Gurney's life by giving concerts in the many places where he spent important, influential parts of his life.

Even though The Netherlands only just escaped active service during WW1, the imminent threat was always there. Many refugees and wounded soldiers were received and looked after. The threat and influence of this war also had its unmistakable impact on works by Dutch composers like Alphons Diepenbrock, his friend Carl Smulders, Joseph Hollmann and Matthijs Vermeulen. On doing research, several gems were discovered and included in the program. In October 2014 Jacobine performed Gurney's work at St. Michael's in High Wycombe, in the very room where Gurney played during the many weekends with the Chapman family when he was organist at Christ Church. In the same month Jacobine performed the Music in War Time recital in Villa Gaudeaumus, the house built and once inhabited by Dutch-German composer and concert pianist Julius Röntgen. Since its construction in 1924 this house has been a host to many great musicians like Röntgens close friends Edvard Grieg and Percy Grainger, Pablo Casals and later also to Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and Louis Andriessen.

"The recital given by soprano Jacobine van Laar was excellent as a whole and very stylish" (Comment by a member of the audience after concert Gaudeamus Villa, Bilthoven, 29-10-14)


Ivor Gurney In Flanders (F.W. Harvey)
Sleep (J. Fletcher)
Down by the Salley Gardens (W.B. Yeats)
Severn Meadows (I. Gurney)
By a Bierside (J. Masefield)
Even such is Time (Sir W. Raleigh)
George Butterworth Selection from A Shropshire Lad (A.E. Housman)
Muriel Herbert The Lake Isle of Innisfree (W.B. Yeats)
The Crimson Rose (Enid Clay)
Herbert Howells King David (Walter de la Mare)
Vaughan Williams Silent Noon from Songs of Life (Dante G. Rossetti)
Edward Elgar The Damask Rose from Seven Lieder (Simon Wastell)
Frank Bridge Love went A-riding
Alphonse Diepenbrock Berceuse
Julius Röntgen Chinesische Lieder, Op. 66
Joseph Hollmann Berceuse
Matthijs Vermeulen La Veille


This program is highly suitable for war memorial occassions or for literary  events highlighting English war poetry and music. It also forms a full recital program in its own right.