Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Lark Ascending
During a long career Ralph Vaughan Williams began a
new Renaissance of English music. In works ranging from symphonies and
concerti to operas, ballets, and hymns, Vaughan Williams blended English
folk song, hymns and Elizabethan music with themes inspired both by
masters such as Bach and Handel, Ravel and Debussy.
Born in Gloucestershire, Vaughan Williams studied both in England, at the
Royal College of Music in London and at Trinity College in Cambridge, and
with Max Bruch in Berlin and Maurice Ravel in Paris. A dedicated
musicologist, he collected and catalogued over 800 English folk songs.
In The Lark Ascending, Vaughan Williams found
inspiration in a poem by the English poet George Meredith (1828-1909). The
composer included this portion of Meredith's poem on the flyleaf of the
He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.
For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.
Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.
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