The Other Side

An episode from the German trenches, August 1915, from artilleryman Herbert Sulzbach’s 1935 memoir With the German Guns:

One of the next starlit summer nights, a decent Landwehr chap came up suddenly and said to 2/Lt Reinhardt, ‘Sir, it’s that Frenchie over there singing again so wonderful.’ We stepped out of the dug-out into the trench, and quite incredibly, there was a marvellous tenor voice ringing out through the night with an aria from Rigoletto. The whole company were standing in the trench listening to the ‘enemy,’ and when he had finished, applauding so loud that the good Frenchman must certainly have heard it and is sure to have been moved by it in some way or other as much as we were by his wonderful singing.

“Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues,” wrote Henri Rabaud. “The Mozart Quintet is not shut up in Salzburg: I have it in my pocket.”