Some of you know I play violin in a small community orchestra. We perform at local rest homes. Our concert mistress has arranged two World War 1-era songs to mark the 100th anniversary of the war’s end. We premiered the songs today. I provided some background info, which I’ll share here, along with links to hear the songs performed (by professionals!).
Liberty Bell was written in 1917 for voice and piano. Here’s what I told our audience.
This song refers to the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. When the American government decided to enter the war—and that decision came in 1917, a committee put together a big marketing campaign to get people involved, to feel patriotic, and to give money. The Liberty Bell was part of that campaign. On Flag Day—June 14, 1917—the mayor of Philadelphia rang the Liberty Bell at noon. And at the same moment, all over the country, people rang bells at schools and churches and fire stations. Part of the lyrics to the song includes this call to action, “It’s time to sing again, it’s time to ring again, for liberty.” Americans believed liberty was the compelling reason to go to war.
Here’s a great old recording of Liberty Bell, which includes a link to the sheet music, if you want to read the lyrics:
My Donut Girl was written in 1919, after the war. My notes to the audience.
This song honors the women of the Salvation Army who went to France. They famously made donuts near the front lines. It’s hard for me to imagine—but they made up the dough, shaped the treats (often rolling them out with wine bottles) and fried them in skillets over crude camp stoves. And they made THOUSANDS—yes, thousands—in a single day, and handed them out to soldiers, along with a hot cup of coffee.
Here’s a nice photo essay with the song being performed: