The Lark Ascending

"The Lark Ascending" is a popular piece for violin and orchestra, written in 1914 by the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was inspired by George Meredith's 122-line poem of the same name about the skylark. It was dedicated to Marie Hall who gave the first performance with piano accompaniment.

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. The First World War halted composition, but the work was revised in 1920 and it was premiered under conductor Adrian Boult on 14 June 1921, again with Marie Hall as soloist.

The critic from "The Times" said of the first performance, "It showed supreme disregard for the ways of today or yesterday. It dreamed itself along".

The use of five-note scale patterns frees the violin from a strong tonal centre. This liberty also extends to the metre. The cadenzas for solo violin are written without bar lines, lending them a sense of meditational release. [Megan Hobbs, "Birds of a feather", Limelight, October 2002] The piece became particularly associated with the English violinist Hugh Bean.

This piece was used by David Crowder Band on their album A Collision (or 3 + 4 = 7). The last song on the album, titled The Lark Ascending or (Perhaps More Accurately, I'm Trying to Make You Sing).

"The Lark Ascending" is the acknowledged direct inspiration for "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" by King Crimson (1973) an inspired brash rock-n-roll twist on Vaughan Williams's lyricism. The piece was also used as the main theme for the 1987 Australian film "The Year My Voice Broke", starring Noah Taylor and Loene Carmen.

Dreadzone's homage to the beauty of the English countryside, "A Canterbury Tale" uses the initial solo violin theme from "The Lark Ascending" as a recurring melody.

In both 2007 and 2008, it was voted number one in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, over Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Vaughan Williams' other great work Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis


External links

* [ George Meredith's Poem "The Lark Ascending"]

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