The Prisoner of War No 16 Vol 2 August 1943

Au gust, 1943 The Prisoner of WarT O most of us entertainment means music in some form or another, whether we like to dance to it, sing to it, or just sit quietly and listen to it. In prison camps, especially, music is one of the greatest forms of relaxation. It is the work of the Indoor Recreations Department, which also sends out books and games, to supply the musical needs of our men. The department keeps all the camps regularly supplied with pack­ages of music of all kinds, as welL as large numbers of portable musical instru­ments. Mixed bags of music in bulk to suit all tastes are sent periodically to all the camp leaders. Atypical package con­tains, for example, albums of tenor and baritone songs, •operettas, vocal and piano pieces, an operatic album, popular song and dance numbers, arrangements for small orchestras of musical composi­tions by well-known composers, a popular classical work for full orchestra, and scores for small orchestras Those Mouth Organs Many individual requests are received, and these are complied with as far as possible. A great number of men are learning to play an instrument and to take an absorbed interest in music for the first time. There are many applications for easily learned instruments, such as the ukelele, and there is an astonishing demand for mouth organs! Unfortunately, the latter were almost exclusively manufactured in Germany, which makes these last re­quests rather difficult to fulfil. But not long ago a ship cap­tured from the Germans was found to be carrying a cargo of mouth organs, which the Red Cross were able to buy very cheaply and send back to Germany to our men in the camps! Other very popular instru­ments are the piano accordion, the saxophone and clarinet, and the guitar. Scottish Stalag prisoners frequently ask for Hon) the Red Cross Helps to Supply the Musical Needs of Our Men bagpipes. Instruments are purchased whenever possible, but saxophones and piano accordions are now very rare and difficult to find, as they, too, were very largely made in Germany. The Red Cross are delighted to receive donations of second-hand instruments to send out to prisoners. Reconditioning Thanks to the great help given by the Services Musical Instrument Fund, whose experts examine and recondition all second-hand instruments for prisoners of war, as well as crating and packing them, it has been possible to buildup whole orchestras to send out, besides granting many individual requests. The Red Cross has never sent gramo­phones to the Prisoner of War Camps in connection with their bulk supplies of musical instruments because of the com­parative fragility of these instruments and the difficulty of repairs in the camps, and have concentrated on the more dur­able musical instruments, but do their best to fulfd any special requests, and forward instruments supplied by next of kin. Violins are, of course,'in great demand, and many of the men are learning to play this instrument. When a learner sends a request for any particular instrument a tutor and a book of exercises and beginner’s pieces are sent out at the same time. Strings, reeds, etc., are also sent. Most of the musical scores and songs IV A’s dance band. The piano was bought prisoners. sent out are new, because the enemy will not accept second-hand music. However, in Germany second-hand music is accepted if it is entirely unmarked. The appreciation of the P.O .W.is certain. Good use is made of the material, and enthusiastic letters reach home. A prisoner, writing from Italy and describing a recent concert, say s:"It was so good that one forgot it was a P.O.W .camp.” The programme in­cluded "Invitation to the Waltz,” Beethoven’s "P a sto rale ,”and Mozart’s songs and "Tannhauser.” Another prisoner writes with appreciation and artistic understanding of "The Moon­light Sonata.” ,In one German Stalag three performances of the "Messiah ’’were given. One prisoner in an Italian Campc speaks proudly of the camp's production of "The Sleeping Beauty,” in which there were "some grand tunes composed in the camp and played by the theatre orchestra.” British Com posers Works by British composers are espe­cially popular. There are frequent re­quests for Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas and for musical comedies such as "The Dancing Years,” "The Desert Song,” and "Rose Marie.” But every musical taste is catered for, from jazz to Beethoven, Purcell to Vaughan Williams, and it is interesting to note that the men are becoming increasingly interested in classical music and in serious modern work. One German camp has putin a request for works by Elgar and Sibelius as well as lor H olst’s "Plane ts.” Experience has proved that the encouragement of the per­formance of music not only enables the many pre-war professional musicians now prisoners to keep in touch with their profession, but provides a valuable mental stimulus and is the basis of by the much of the social life in the prisoners’ small world.
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