22 Sep 2018

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: The Lark Ascending

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 22 September 2018
Vaughan Williams in 1920

Vaughan Williams in 1920 Photo: E. O. Hoppé, Public Domain

Together with Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams is generally regarded as a most quintessentially 'English' composer, in spite of the fact that he studied in Berlin with Max Bruch and in Paris with Ravel, as well as in England.

As with Ravel, the onset of of WWI had a marked effect on his career. He had actually completed a first version of 'The Lark Ascending' for violin and piano in 1914, but the war and his involvement as an ambulance driver delayed its first performance until 1920. After that, Vaughan Williams set to work revising and re-arranging the piece for solo violin and orchestra and in this version it was premièred in 1921 at Queen's Hall in London.

Vaughan Williams took his inspiration from a poem of the same name by the English writer George Meredith, which describes the lark's "silver chain of song" as it soars through the air, "ever winging up and up" until disappearing in the higher reaches of the sky, "lost on his aerial rings in light".

Recorded 22 September 2018, Wigram Airforce Museum, Christchurch by RNZ Concert

Sound engineer: Darryl Stack

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