The Ineffable



6. Toccata

This Toccata is an expression of heroism that demands subtlety, skill, strength, and stamina of the pianist. The staggering intensity of the piece eventually climaxes with an overwhelming final crescendo. Even if it might be considered celebratory, the sublime magnitude of the finale borders on catastrophe. The Toccata could be said to symbolize the national military patriotism that each nation had to relentlessly sustain during the war, only to culminate in the abrupt realization of the magnitude of the resulting destruction.

The film that accompanies the Toccata is preserved in the archives of the Netley Hospital. The clip contains a demonstration of new therapies developed by Arthur Hurst for curing ‘war neurosis’—a psychiatric illness coined as such during the Great War.

The devastating words of Ferdinand Foch quoted in this section became etched in history. Winston Churchill recalled Foch’s assertion in his memoirs when discussing the decreed arrangements for Germany at the Paris Peace Conference. According to Churchill, the plan was perverse, absurd, and useless; and its implementation was even more ludicrous. Ultimately, the arrangement laid the groundwork for the eruption of the Second World War 20 years later. In the epilogue of Churchill's book on the Second World War, the British statesman confesses:

"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once “The Unnecessary War.” There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle. The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the Righteous Cause, we have still not found Peace or Security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils than those we have surmounted. It is my earnest hope that pondering upon the past may give guidance in days to come, enable a new generation to repair some of the errors of former years and thus govern, in accordance with the needs and glory of man, the awful unfolding scene of the future."