Piano aan het front - Concerten en cinema voor Belgische soldaten tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog

08 juli 2022

In this research, I will examine cultural entertainment for Belgian soldiers on the front line

during the First World War. Although there were many forms of entertainment, this thesis

focusses only on concerts and cinema, so I’m able to study these activities in close detail.

The research question is about how and why the Belgian government funded and organised

these cultural activities for their soldiers. Both questions will be answered based on primary

sources and contextualised based on scientific literature.

The thesis consists of two main parts. The first part focusses on music during the war and the

organisation of ‘L’Orchestre Symphonique de l’Armée de la Campagne’, that consisted of 119

soldier-musicians. I will examine how and why they performed for their wounded comrades.

In the second part, I focus on the many cinema venues the Belgian government organised. I will

examine how this new invention found its way to the fighting soldiers and why the government

funded this cultural entertainment.

This topic has never been studied closely before, and it is the first time these primary sources

will be used for a concrete study. The results are therefore captivating and relevant.


Robin Demesmaeker


Prof. Dr. Nel de Mûelenaere


In Flanders Fields Museum


Vrije Universiteit Brussel