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