Music

A concert by the camp orchestra
DIJ Tokyo Shelf Mark H57-05:A concert by the camp orchestra to an audience largely composed of Japanese ladies

The music performed in the Camp ranged from popular and light classical pieces to Beethoven symphonies and chamber music. The Camp was fortunate in having two orchestras which had been established in previous camps. The prisoners from the M.A.K. (sometimes abbreviated as M.A.)1 also had an orchestra. The name of the Tokushima Orchestra explains its origin. The Engel Orchestra was established in Marugame by Paul Engel, its conductor, who was a professional musician. Beethoven’s 4th 2 and 9th 3 symphonies were performed by the Tokushima Orchestra, while the 5th was performed by the Engel Orchestra in April 19184 and again in October 19195. Although the newspaper dealt with the 9th in considerable length prior to the performance, there is, unusually, no account of the event apart from an entry in the Camp Chronicle. Despite this, it eventually led to the well established Japanese tradition of performing the symphony (“daiku”) in Osaka at New Year. It is worth noting that in Kurume6, where they admittedly had about three hundred prisoners more than Bando, they achieved a larger and more varied musical repertoire – including the 9th.

The fact that the orchestras did not amalgamate show a general tendency in the camp for old allegiances to persist. This can also be observed in sporting events and in the various celebrations of the Kaiser’s birthday in January 1918 7,8, although in the case of the latter, space will also have been a consideration.

There were a number of chamber music evenings. The third one, in which Paul Engel and Carl Wunderlich played Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata was obviously particularly memorable. Rudolf Mahnfeld frequently wrote insightful introductions to - and reviews of – performances of classical music:

Most of the programs for the concerts were artistic and carefully prepared.

A typical concert program
DIJ Tokyo Shelf Mark E3-30:A typical concert program

It would be a mistake to think that all the concerts only contained serious classical music. For example, on the 20th of January 1918 the Tokushima Orchestra held an Operetta Evening9, while the concert on the 21st of July 191810 was “a combination of serious and cheerful”.

There were also a number of brass bands in the camp, and they often played in the open air when the weather allowed. The 23rd Concert of the M.A. Brass Band11 gives a typical example of the music played.

There was a lieder recital12 on the 21st of April 1918. The camp also had several choirs, one of which was led by Paul Moltrecht. A typical concert13 was given on the 20th of October 1918, while Peter Janssen`s choir gave one of its concerts14 on the 9th of March 1919.