A0111-CD: Songs of Freedom

Songs of Freedom by Côr Cochion Caerdydd

CD CoverThe 21 tracks represent a musical history of the Spanish Civil War, and Wales' part in the fight against fascism. It includes Brecht and Eisler songs of the 30''s, songs sung by the International Brigades in Spain, and modern tributes including Christy Moore's Viva la Quince Brigada, Ewan MacColl's Jamie Foyers and Tudur Huws Jones' Sbaen 1936.

Côr Cochion aims to keep alive the spirit of internationalism and solidarity which inspired those who went to defend the Spanish Republic during 1936-9. The proceeds of this cd will go to the International Brigades Memorial Trust, to help it continue its educational work and fund further events and memorials in Wales.

Buy this album now   CD: £14.00 + p&p 

Audio Samples & Track Listing

Track Listing

1 Peat Bog Soldiers (from 1938 Vinyl recording **) 2:57
2 United Front (from 1938 Vinyl recording **) 2:49
3 Los Cuatros Generales (from 1938 Vinyl recording **) 2:42
4 Workers unite for the battle 1:19
5 Bandiera Rossa 1:17
6 Maruxina 2:26
7 Solidarity song 1:48
8 Freiheit (Freedom) 2:14
9 Werin Daear 2:13
10 Buddugoliaeth 3:04
11 Niclas 2:36
12 The Whole Wide World Around 2:39
13 Si Me Quieres Escribir 1:55
14 Viva La Quince Brigada 4:37
15 Jamie Foyars 2:44
16 Ay Carmela 2:05
17 Valley of Jarama 1:24
18 Miners Lifeguard 2:41
19 Sbaen 1936 3:27
20 Hen wlad fy nhadau 1:32
21 The Internationale 1:17
Total time 49:55

** Tracks from the vinyl record album ‘Six Songs for Democracy’ originally recorded in June 1938 by the German tenor Ernst Busch with a chorus from the brigade’s German Thaelmann Battalion, made during the bombardment of Barcelona. The sound quality on the CD is authetically scratchy, but the MP3 clip used on this web site has been digitally cleaned.

CD Notes and Credits

70 Anniversary of the Spanish Civil WarWales and the Spanish Civil War

In the 1930s a worldwide depression led to mass unemployment, starvation and suffering. Workers became increasingly militant as the situation grew more desperate, and the forces of reaction became increasingly violent trying to maintain the established order. Two countries heavily affected were Wales and Spain. In 1934, an armed insurrection in the Asturias mining region of Spain was brutally suppressed by the conservative government. Fleeing refugees told the story to Welsh workers, especially miners, opening their eyes to the international nature of the struggle. A coalition of left wing parties won the Spanish elections in 1936 and introduced previously stalled reforms promising universal education, health care and agrarian reform. Alarmed, the right wing launched an armed revolt against the government in July, supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which quickly became an all-out civil war. The elected Republican government sent out a cry for assistance. When they heard the news, people from 57 countries, including many Welsh miners, did not hesitate to act in solidarity. Over two thirds of the hundreds of Welsh volunteers came from the mining valleys; and many never returned. The international volunteers helped the republic score many important victories, some commemorated in these songs. In many ways, the Spanish Civil War was the opening battle of World War II, which began only six months after the final defeat of the Republic in March 1939. Though the battle for Spain was lost, the lessons learned from that heroic struggle ultimately contributed to the defeat of fascism.

Notes on the Songs

The songs on this CD commemorate the brave volunteers who joined the 'International Brigade' They include songs from the 30s, songs about and by the International Brigade. The first three songs come from the vinyl record album ‘Six Songs for Democracy’ originally recorded in June 1938 by the German tenor Ernst Busch with a chorus from the brigade’s German Thaelmann Battalion, made during the bombardment of Barcelona. All others are sung by Cor Cochion, conducted by John Abraham or Wendy Lewis.

Images from CD
Image from CD book
Image from CD book
Survivors and members of the choir

1. Peat Bog Soldiers is the first and most famous song to be composed in the concentration camps of the Third Reich. It was’a protest on the part of the resistance fighters against the oppressors! Written in 1933 by prisoners — the poet Esser, with music by Goguel — it was performed by a men’s choir in the camp, until the Nazis realised its subversive power and banned it.‘Wherever the eye wanders, heath and moor sormund us; no hirdsong greets us... Up and down the guards are pacing, no one can go through, flight would mean sure death, guns and barbed wire greet our view... Winter will in time be gone. One day we will cry rejoicing, homeland dear, you’re wine again:

2. United Front: music by Hans Eisler, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, sung in four languages by Ernst Busch.

3. Los Cuatros Generales refers to the four insurgent generals, Franco and his rebels, who swore they would capture Madrid in the first months of the war, but failed.

4. Workers unite for the battle: based on a Russian none. In the spirit of internationalism, miners and workers challenged fascism wherever it appeared, from disrupting Mosleylte rallies in Pontypridd and Tonypandy, to the Battle of Cable Street.

5. Bandiera Rossa: the ltalian 'Red Flag.'

6. Maruxina: this Spanish song which commemorate a mining disaster, became popular during the Asnurian miners’ uprising in 1934. ‘Four miners died in the Maria Luisa pitwith broken heads and shirts red with the blood of a companion.’

7. Solidarity song: another collaboration of Brecht and Fisler which embodies the spirit of the Internation. Brigades.

8. Freiheit: (Freedom): the song of the Thaelmann Batallion which saved Madrid in 1936. ‘Spanish heaven spread their brilliant starlight... Our homeland is far away, while we fight for you — freedom! (Soloist: Jame Stewart)

9. Werin Daear TE Nicholas, ‘Niclas y Glais' was one of the outstanding progressive voices of Wales. He wrote the poems which were used as the lyrics of ’Buddugoliaeth’ and ‘Werin Daear’ and translated the’lnternational into Welsh, inspired by the impulse to build a world of socialism and equality. ‘People of the earth, with bean) chains, walk up out of the dark valleys into the light, break the shackles, come the day when the workers of Wales will be free:

10. Buddugoliaeth: the tune is Cwm Rhondda, the lyrics byTE Nicholas, anticipating the victory of the working classes over their oppression.

11. Niclas: words by Lyn Mererid, to the tune 'Rolling Home’ by John Tams. This celebrates the life of TE Nicholas, from his pacifism during WWI to hin support forthe Spanish Republic and his internationalism.

12. The Whole Wide World Around: Tom Glazer, the American Trade Unionist, set new words to Bach’s chorale. In 1940 he recorded songs of the Spanish Civil War with Pete Seeger and members of the Lincoln Battalion.

13. Si Me Quieres Escribir: Member of the chorus heard this on the ferry at Gandesa, on the 65th anniversary of the battle of the Ebro. There are many variants of this song, and our shortened version commemorates the Ebro crossing in 1938. 'If you want to write to me, you know where you can always find me, on the front line at Gandesa, in the heat of every battle.'

14. Viva La Quince Brigada: by Christy Moore. Christy Moore wrote this tribute to the Irish brigaders who died in Spain. Their comrades who returned were active in supporting liberation struggles around the world, and tirelessly worked to keep alive the memory of their fight against fascism in Spain.

15. Jamie Foyars: a lament by Ewan MacCull for a young Scottish life lost in Spain, who represents all those young men and women of promise who believed in the cause of democracy. (Soloist: Wendy Lewis)

16. Ay Carmela famously celebrates the 15th International Brigade, which sustained terrible losses in Jarama. ‘Long live the 15th brigade, who are covered in glory... Our only desire is to overcome fascism; in the Jarama front, we had no planes, no tanks, no cannon. Now we leave Spain to fight on other fronts.'

17. Valley of Jarama: the song was a favourite amongst the English speaking volunteers. We sing the British version.

18. Miners Lifeguard: The Welsh Miners Federation made the largest trade union contribution to the British support for Spain. Two thirds of the Welsh volunteers were miners, and many coalfield communities, despite their own desperate poverty, formed Spanish Aid committees to send financial and medical help. The warning in the chorus to ‘keep your eyes upon the scale’ refers to the coal owners’practice of underweighing the miners’ coal cars before the onions succeeded in appointing a union checkweighman. (Soloist: Lyn Mererid)

19. Sbaen 1936: Tudor Huws Jones wrote this in the 80s after meeting Jack ‘Russia’ Roberts and Tom Jones, and hearing of their experiences in Spain. It chronicles the remarkable contribution made to the fight for democracy by the mining communities of South Wales. Men from Wales sailed across the seas, far from the comfort of their villages, to join the great army of the world in Spain. ‘Their message was: smash the fascists) They came from LIanelli, Neath, Swansea... from west and north, because they must.'

20. Hen wlad fy nhadau: the Welsh anthem written by Evan and James James in 1856. '..as long as the sea is a wall to the dear loved land, so long may the language endure:

21. The Intemationale: the international revolutionary anthem by Eugene Pottier in 1871; Welsh translation byTE Nicholas.


The conductors of Côr Cochion on these recordings are John Abraham and Wendy Lewis.

Engineering by Albany Productons Ltd. office@albanystudios.co.uk

Produced by: PMC Studios info@pmc.uk.net

Profits to: The International Brigade Memorial Trust, which aims to keep alive the memory of those who went to Spain through its educational work.

For more information contact:

Marlene Sidaway
Secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust





Album & Artist Information

Instruments: Choir
Genre: Political
Format: Audio CD
Our Ref: A0111
Label: Cor Cochion
Year: 2004
Origin: UK

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