The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams is one of my favourite pieces of classical music and I know of no other which conveys so well the beauty of the English countryside. Written in 1914, it was inspired by George Meredith’s 122-line poem of the same name about the skylark. Vaughan Williams actually wrote sketches for it whilst watching troop ships cross the English Channel at the outbreak of war. A small boy observed him making the sketches and, thinking he was jotting down a secret code, informed a police officer who subsequently arrested the composer! Thus, although the piece appears to be a pastoral idyll, at its heart it is a nostalgic work about England and the loss of innocence that the First World War brought.

The composition is intended to convey the lyrical and almost eternally English beauty of the scene in which a skylark rises into the heavens above some sunny down and attains such height that it becomes barely visible to those on the ground below. Text adapted from Wikipedia

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