Paris-Manchester 1918: Conservatoires in time of war

The RNCM and Paris Conservatoire have collaborated on a dual-language online exhibition commemorating the end of the Great War.

Through research undertaken in both cities, Paris-Manchester 1918: Conservatoires in time of war offers the opportunity to learn about the lives of the musicians behind the concert programmes, creating a lasting memorial in celebration of those who fought or made music during the extraordinary years of the First World War.

Anonymous, ca. 1916: Fernand Halphen Conducting a Military Band during the 1914-1918 War, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Music Department, Est. Halphen 003 [on line].

Divided into four main themes (Conservatoires under Fire, Musicians at the Front, Musicians on the Home Front, Musical Life and From War to Peace), the documents, images and recordings tell stories about particular musicians from both Paris and Manchester who served during the Great War, such as Maurice Ravel (pictured below), who made considerable efforts to enlist; the promising violinist, Frank Tipping, who died in action at the age of 21; Roger Pénau, who served as a stretcher-bearer; and Fernand Halphen, who was determined to make music happen anywhere, even close to the front line.

The exhibition also includes items relating to Adolph Brodsky, Principal of the Royal Manchester College of Music (RMCM), who was interned in Austria at the start of the war, and shows correspondence between Hope Squire and her husband, piano tutor Frank Merrick, who was imprisoned as a Contentious Objector at Wormwood Scrubs. Alongside this are concert programmes from the RMCM, the Hallé and from the edge of the battlefield, and from Paris, extracts from the Gazette, which the famous musical sisters Nadia and Lili Boulanger established to correspond with musicians serving at the Front.

Anonymous (1916) Maurice Ravel as a Soldier, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Music Department, Est. Ravel M. 012 bis [on line].

Paris-Manchester 1918: Conservatoires in time of war forms the central part of the RNCM’s year-long French Connections festival, celebrating the music of France and its impact across the world. It is available in both English and French at

8 March 2018