[Sheet music] Battle of the nations : march descriptive

Accession Number RC11314
Collection number Sheet Music Collection 829
Collection type Published Collection
Measurement Overall - closed: 34.6 cm x 26.6 cm
Object type Sheet Music
Maker Paull, Edward T
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Recording provided for personal, non-commercial and commemorative use. Permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use. Attached digital images provided for personal non-commercial use

Sheet music for the instrumental piece titled 'Battle of the Nations', composed by Edward Taylor Paull. This piece was written in 1915 and was described as a 'descriptive march'. It also asserts on the cover to be a "companion piece to the celebrated 'Napoleon's Last Charge'". The back page features a listing of Paull's musical works and arrangements available for purchase from J Albert & Son, Sydney. This copy was published by J Albert & Son, Sydney, and was sold for 4/- by Empire Music House, Burwood.

Descriptive pieces have been described as falling into the salon music genre. This piece resembles descriptive fantasias which were a sub-genre of this category and were popular during the nineteenth century. Descriptive fantasias are a type of musical composition depicting an event with music that also incorporates tunes that many people know or recognise. Works, such as this one, were popular with pianists for parlour performances, and also provided opportunities for their audience to vocally join in during the snippets of familiar songs.

Inside the front cover is a synopsis of the music which is described as 'The following introduction is a representation of heavy cannonading, Reveile, French Fife and Drum Corps; Military Band; Scotch Highlanders with Bag Pipes; Bugle Calls, etc'. Some of the pieces represented in the work include 'The Russian National Anthem' and 'Rule Brittania'. Some of the scenes represented in this work include troops assembling, the band playing, soldiers marching, bugles sounding, soldiers forming the line of battle, calls for reinforcements and their subsequent movement to the front line, charging of horses and cavalry, soldiers retreating, Allies charging enemy lines, trench fighting and the clash of arms. The piece finishes with 'Rule Brittania'.

Edward Taylor Paull was an American composer and arranger of musical works who specialised in marches and descriptive pieces. He was the first publisher to use five-colour lithograpy in the production of covers for his sheet music and used the cover illustration to refer to events portrayed in the music itself.

Towards the bottom of this page is a sound recording of this sheet music, or a parody, that was created as part of the Music and the First World War project. More information about this recording, including names of the performers, can be found on the catalogue record for the sound recording. A link to the catalogue record for the sound recording can be found at the bottom of this page, under the heading ‘Related objects’ where it can be identified with the prefix [sound recording].

History / Summary

The instrumental piece ‘The Battle of the Nations’ was a popular piece at concerts in Australia during the First World War period. The first mention of this piece during this period in Australian newspapers was the receipt of the sheet music for the work by Leitch’s Music Store in Bridge Street, Ballarat. This was announced in The Evening Echo newspaper on 31 July 1915 with the report saying it was “a new descriptive march, companion piece to the celebrated ‘Napoleon’s last charge’ by E T Paull.” A couple of days later, the music was advertised again by the same store with the description changed to add that it was ‘a stirring descriptive march’. The song continued to be advertised well into September by this music seller as well as a music seller in Bundaberg, Queensland.

This piece was popular at fundraising events during the First World War period and the years that immediately followed it. A concert was held as part of fundraising events for the Mother’s thirty thousand fund at Tenambit, New South Wales. The concert was held in the evening of an event that started in the afternoon at the local primary school. The piece titled ‘Battle of the Nations’ was performed by Miss Ryan and Miss Hodges. A concert was held at Corndale, near Lismore, New South Wales, to raise money for the Red Cross on 14 March 1916. The concert was organised by the Clunes Concert Company with this piece performed by Mrs Garrett with Mr Garrett and G McNiff. The piece was described in a report of this concert in the Northern Star newspaper as an ‘overture’ and this is how it was described in other reports as well. In 1919, this piece was performed as a solo by Mr Lawman in the first of a series of concerts that were held at Warwick, Queensland, to raise money for the Returned Soldiers’ Memorial Rest Home fund.

This piece was also popular with Australian service personnel. The Lone Pine Band, whose members were returned soldiers, arrived in Kiama, New South Wales on 7 November 1916 and gave a concert that evening. The concert opened with a piece performed by Bandsman Butler and then followed by ‘Battle of the Nations’ which was performed by the band.