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No Man's Land 2019

This work is based on a motif inspired by the initials of World War I (WWI) (first appearing on the solo cornet) and is evoked by the composer to tell the linear focal point story of poet and writer John McCrae, who was a 42-year-old medical officer and Major of the Canadian Army.

The composition is in six linked parts: Starting with his journey from ‘Ontario - 1914’, through the horrors of the ‘Battle of Ypres’ and its ’17 Days of Hades’, to ‘Flanders Field’ which inspired his greatest poetry. ‘Bonfire’ marks McCrae’s own death. It closes with the reflection of the first ‘Poppy Day’ in 1921.

The music explores the sentiments and attitudes of the time; the passions and blunders of involvement – from McCrae’s own opportunity to write poetry and to the hellish landscape from which he had to draw inspiration – especially Ypres and its deadly gas attacks.

The central section draws on the poet’s deep sense of loss of the death of his ‘brother in arms’ in Flanders – and his work ‘In Flanders Field’ which symbolised the send of tragedy felt by millions of families:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row”

McCrea was not to find solace – dying of pneumonia and meningitis on 28th January 1918 at the Wimereux military hospital where he was buried with full military honours.

The music of the finale marks his sacrifice, and that of millions of others like him.

Composer: Thierry Deleruyelle
Type: Test Piece

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