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The Poet Who Loved The War: Ivor Gurney Film

BBC SO Total Immersion: In Remembrance World War I


A remarkable story of the First World War soldier-poet who broke all the rules.

Ivor Gurney wasn't an officer but a private who bizarrely joined up in the hope that the ordered army life would help ease a mental health condition. Initially this shock therapy worked, but he was eventually shot and gassed and spent the last 15 years of his life in an asylum.

Yet the poetry he wrote there is uniquely powerful - capturing the experience of the ordinary soldier - and the film argues that it is the equal of the work of any of the more well-known soldier-poets of WWI. Gurney was also an accomplished composer and all the music used in the film is his, some of it hauntingly written on the Western Front.


black and white photo of soldiers

Long read: Music of conflict

Dr Kate Kennedy looks at a number of solider-composers from World War I, from different backgrounds and nations, exploring the vital importance of music for survival. 

an orchestra playing classical music in the barbican hall in central london

Listen: Classical Music on Spotify

Follow our regularly updated Classical Music playlist for a sample of the music you'll hear across our programme. 

Barbican Cinema