I was watching University Challenge (BBC2TV iplayer) yesterday evening and was pleasantly surprised by a series of questions about music and trains. Actually, the questions were about orchestral music and trains…not easy for young people.
The questions were about Berlioz and the Paris-Lille railway, Steve Reich and Different Trains, and about the Railway Waltz by one of the Strausses…maybe, the elder?
It turns out that Berlioz composed a send-off for the first through train between Paris and Belgium, via Lille (1846).
When the train arrived at Lille, there was a gala dinner…comprising over 28 000 plates of food! The Paris Lille railway was capitalised by the Rothschild bank, and formed the main part of the Chemins de Fer du Nord railway.
The company never quite had the glamour of the PLM to the south, but it became a very significant international line and had a very high volume of business traffic. Indeed, the international trains from Paris to Amsterdam, and beyond, were facilitated by the creation of the Compagnie des Wagons Lits.
So, there you are…trains, luxury, food and music, all combined!
The poster by AM Cassandre for the famous international service from Paris to the north…is shown above
This postcard image shows the engines of the Nord railway
One of my earliest posts (2011) was about the Jean Mitry film with music by Arthur Honneger. It turns out that this was filmed on the Paris-Lille line.
I found a top-ten list about music and railways, here
and here is another list of railway music…and not just orchestral music