Paris-Manchester 1918
Conservatoires in time of war

From War to Peace

Although the armistice of 11 November marked the end of the fighting, it did not mean an immediate return to peace. The Treaty of Versailles would not be signed for another year, and yet more time would pass before the war really came to end. The end of the war was a time for remembrance: people remembered who they were, erected monuments and tended to their wounds. This transition from a state of war to a time for memories also made possible an escape from the omnipresent violence of the four years of conflict. People began to see the emergence of veterans’ associations and new pacifist yearnings.

States and governments took steps to reinforce their authority during this transitional period, to ensure a smooth changeover from a society at war to a society at peace and to reunite the nation around new shared ideals. The Conservatoire, in common with many institutions of the French Republic, is presented – in a speech by the Minister for the Arts – as an instrument to re-forge a nation unified by shared values. The institution itself commemorates its dead by raising a monument to them at the start of the 1920s.

On an individual level, this return to peace also marks a return to civilian life. The letters addressed to the Franco-American Committee reflect the desire to make up for lost time, find employment or simply make music again.


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Becker, Jean-Jacques and Audouin-Rouzeau, Stéphane (1995) La France, la Nation, la Guerre : 1850-1920, Paris: Sedes.

Becker, Annette (2001) “La Grande Guerre, entre mémoire et oubli”, Cahiers français, No. 303, July-August 2001.

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