In Flanders fields
is another 1917 ‘war song’, very different in temper from He is There!
. It sets—at his business partner Julian Myrick’s request—a poem by John McCrae, who had been medical referee for their insurance firm, Mutual Life, in Montreal. Myrick had it premiered at a luncheon for Mutual managers at the Waldorf Hotel. The audience was understandably nonplussed, and Ives was distressed by the poor performance, and he revised the song in 1919. It partly derives from a lost march of 1899 and is a dirge for the war dead, opening with a bitter fanfare and containing sardonic references to Columbia
, Gem of the Ocean
, God Save the King
, the Marseillaise
and several other national tunes.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008