And the band played on

Robert Holden

A beautiful and interesting investigation on how the Anzacs survived the horrors of the First World War, drawing on music and song.

Imagine Australian life back in the first decade of the 20th century when our country was still in its infancy. This was a society in which families provided much of their own amusement: anyone who could play an instrument, or who had a passable voice, or could recite, was valued, as well as expected to entertain. Having a piano in the parlour was the mark of a cultured household. Playing the piano, singing, performing or reciting poetry learned in school elocution classes were a staple of family as well as of community life.

And so, when the men of this young Australia marched off to war a typical call was, “Are you a singing man?”. “Can you elocute? Can you spin a funny yarn? Can you play a mouth organ, concertina … or any other instrument?” Those who answered this second call to arms became the morale boosters of the First World War.

And the band played on seeks to re-create and pay homage to that camaraderie and to that innocent enjoyment and spontaneous  entertainment which lifted the spirits of the Anzacs whether they were under the shadow of the pyramids, in the trenches of the Western Front, on board battleships, recuperating in hospitals or even in Prisoner of War camps.

Soft cover, black & white photographs, 288 pages.

You may also be interested in the accompanying CD And the band played on: Music from the First World War