The Lark Ascending
Ralph Vaughan Williams
The highest of 8 entries by Vaughan Williams in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This has been number 1 on 6 occasions, including our most recent countdown. It entered the top 5 in 1998 and remained there ever since!
Written in 1914 at the start of a war that would change the world forever, Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending is a serene evocation of an innocent bird heading to lofty heights.
Partly inspired by a poem written by English poet George Meredith, The Lark Ascending starts subtly with hushed strings which introduced the lark in the form of the solo violin.
The soaring violin melody ascends so high into the instrument's upper register that, at times, it is barely audible; shimmering strings, meanwhile, provide much of the beautifully sensitive accompaniment in The Lark Ascending, evoking glorious images of the rolling British countryside. Midway through, Vaughan Williams treats us to an orchestral section that seems to borrow from his love of folk songs; it's not long, though, before the lark returns, with the melody entwining itself around the orchestra and then breaking free, rising to ever loftier heights.
Just beautiful. No other words for it.
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